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Two Old Souls, a Baby and a Sunflower

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To pursue your dreams is hard. Beca knew it when she left everything behind and moved to L.A. to try and become a successful music producer. She just had no idea of how hard it was going to be. It’s fucking exhausting and makes it so difficult to have any hopes at all.

 

Her job as an intern on a label and dj-ing at clubs here and there are barely enough to help her best friend pay the bills of their shared apartment, so Beca’s only choice is to look for another job.

 

But working from midday to eight in the night has Beca realizing she has no time to actually look for an extra job, since she obviously needs to sleep  and to work on her mixes in the free time she still gets in the mornings and late at night.

 

“I can find you a job!” Stacie tells her.

 

“Oh, that’s awesome!” Beca grabs her bag and runs downstairs, almost falling on her ass when she misses the last step. “Anything music related. A radio station or another label, I don’t care. But it has to involve music.” Beca opens the door, stumbling on her own feet. She absolutely hates being late and having to leave on a rush. “Thanks, Stace!”

 

That was earlier today.

 

Right know, Beca has her eyes wide and an annoyed expression filling her face as she looks up at her friend. “Really, Stacie?” She asks in disbelief. “You scheduled an interview for me to babysit nine-month-old baby? I asked you to find me a music related job, dude!”

 

Stacie shrugs. “Well, you know you can actually sing to the baby and play her songs or whatever.” She says as she moves around the kitchen, dancing to the low music playing on Beca’s phone while cooking dinner, her voice suggesting Beca’s being overdramatic.

 

“Dude, no!” Beca throws her head backwards, a puff of air leaving her mouth. “I am a mess with kids, Stacie. You fucking know that!”

 

“C’mon, Beca, it’s just a baby. You can do it. And besides, they pay well and you need the money.”

 

“Oh, my God,” Beca takes a deep breath, running her hands through her hair like she usually does when she’s stressed. “I do need the money, that’s right. But I can’t risk killing someone’s child.”

 

Beca’s words have Stacie laughing so hard her head bobs back.

 

“Nobody’s gonna be killed, you drama queen.” Stacie laughs. “A friend of a friend of mine told me the parents want someone known. They didn’t want to announce on a website they’re looking for a babysitter, or whatever. I think the mom is very successful on her job.”

 

“I’m the very least option in that case.” Beca replies, still angry. “I don’t know them and I can’t even change diapers.”

 

“Beca,” Stacie walks towards her until they’re face to face, both hands holding Beca by her shoulders. “You’ve got this. Just read some articles tonight before going to meet the family tomorrow. See how things turn out and, if the innocent little nine-month-old baby frightens you away, you’re free to quit.”

 

Beca groans, but doesn’t say anything else. She skips dinner so she can learn anything about how to keep a tiny human alive and ends up sleeping late at night.

 

The alarm rings at seven in the morning, but Beca allows herself an extra half an hour of sleep, feeling she might need it. She leaves her and Stacie’s apartment around eight thirty, not wanting to be late on her very first day, but also fearing something would go wrong.

 

She watches from the Uber window as the streets grow larger and the houses bigger, wondering why she agreed on coming in first place. Her mind panics when the car stops and the driver says they’ve reached their destiny, but somehow Beca remembers how to walk as she climbs up the three large steps of the mansion she’s about to enter—not before checking the address three more times. She rings the doorbell and takes a step back, looking down at her own clothes and frowning at the very old pair of jeans and the simple black shirt she’s wearing. Her red pair of all stars is even worse. They have been washed so many times one would think they’re actually a light shade of pink.

 

She groans loudly, just when the door opens.

 

“Good morning,” An old lady greets Beca and her smile is so big it has Beca wondering how is it possible anyone on to have this disposition before midday. “You must be Beca.”

 

“Hm, yeah. Sorry, yes.” Beca feels the blush rising on her cheeks for her clumsy words.

 

“I’m Rose, the housekeeper. It’s very nice to meet you.” She extends a hand out and Beca shakes it faintly.

 

“Nice to meet you, too.”

 

“Well, you wanna come in or do you plan to stay outside for the rest of the day?” Rose asks with a funny look and only then Beca realizes she’s been standing like an idiot for about thirty seconds.

 

She shyly laughs it away. “Right.”

 

Beca walks past Rose and needs to remember to close her mouth when it opens in shock for how big is the room she just entered. There’s too much white everywhere and the furniture is so expensive-looking, Beca makes a note inside her head to not touch anything. Her clumsiness is surely going to be a problem and she doesn’t want to break anything she can’t pay for.


She hears footsteps coming down the stairs and Rose touches her right shoulder. “I’m going to the kitchen so I can finish cooking Loey’s lunch. Miss Beale is coming to talk to you.”

 

She gives a small smile to the lady as she walks away, awkwardly standing in the middle of the room as she spots a redheaded woman walking downstairs with a baby on her hip. 

 

“Oh, hello!” The woman greets, giving Beca a big smile before waving with the baby’s hand. “Wanna say hi to Beca, sweetie? She’s gonna take care of you today!” She says excitedly as her daughter looks up at her, before the little girl babbles away a baby version of ‘hi’.

 

Beca laughs at the little girl and, not sure of what to do, she takes the baby’s chubby hand and shakes it a little. “Hey, baby!”

 

The woman takes her daughter’s hand and lifts it up, as if the baby was excited to see Beca. “I’m Arlo!” She says in an adorable baby voice and Beca laughs again.

 

“Nice to meet you, Miss Beale.”

 

“Oh, Chloe is fine!” She lifts her head to meet Beca’s eyes and for a moment Beca forgets how to breathe, the thought of being face to face with the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen making her mind go numb. “So, Beca, I’m going to give you a quick tour through the house before I tell you a few details I forgot to when you called me last night.”

 

Beca nods and breathes out a low “okay” while Chloe starts walking upstairs again and she follows quietly.

 

By the end of the tour, she isn’t only surprised by the huge four-bedroom house for a such a tiny family, but also wondering how she’s gonna be able to close all the windows if it starts raining.

 

“And this is the kitchen.” Chloe enters the big room, Beca right behind her. “Okay, Beca. Arlo can’t eat anything that contains sugar yet, she’s still young and I plan on keeping her meals  as healthy as possible while I can.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“The car keys,” Chloe continues. “Are always in the same place, hung on the wall by the front door. I asked my husband to leave his car for you, just in case you wanna take Arlo to the park or take her out to a fun place or if she gets a fever and you need to take her to the hospital.” Chloe takes a folded paper out of her back pocket. “This are her Doctors’ numbers, you already have mine. Any questions?” Chloe stops walking then, the baby resting her head on her mother’s left shoulder.

 

“Hm, no. I think I got it.” Beca mumbles as she slides the paper inside her own pocket.

 

“Great!” Chloe walks to the living room again, putting her daughter down on the floor before walking to Beca again. “You know this is just a test, right?” Beca nods. “I’m going out to meet my husband now and we’ll come back by midday so you can meet him. I need to get to my new job around seven in the morning, so in case we choose you, you’d have to arrive around six forty five next Monday, is that okay?”

 

“Yeah, that’s okay.” Beca says, kind of dying inside. Waking up early is her weakness.

 

“Good! Arlo usually naps around ten, so if she’s a little moody in a few, just rock her for a bit and she’ll fall asleep. Oh, and she doesn’t watch tv. All of her toys and books are in the playroom upstairs. And...” Chloe stops and takes a breath. “Yeah. I think that’s all.”

 

“Okay,” Beca breathes out as Chloe kneels down in front of her daughter. “We’re gonna be fine, right, little one?” She says, hoping her voice doesn’t show how insecure she actually feels.

 

“Yeah, I think you will.” Chloe turns to her daughter. “Mama will be back very quickly, okay, darling?” The baby giggles when Chloe kisses her face. “I love you. Be good to Beca!” 

 

“I’ll call you if I have any doubts.” 

 

“Great!” Chloe smiles. “C’mon Rose, I’ll drive you.” 

 

Rose stops to give the baby a kiss and then stands, putting Beca in a big bear hug. “Goodbye, sweetheart.”

 

Beca shrugs. “Hm, bye.”

 

“Goodbye, Beca,” Chloe shoots her a smile. “I’ll be back at midday.”

 

And just like that, Beca is alone with a nine-month-old baby inside of a huge house.

 

It could be worse, she thinks.

 

For the first twenty minutes she doesn’t move. She sits on the couch and stays there, just watching little Arlo while she crawls around, babbling and doing baby stuff. When Arlo reaches the bottom of the stairs and blinks her big blue eyes back at Beca, Beca stands and walks towards the little girl. 

 

“Guess you wanna go to the playroom, right?” Beca says and Arlo’s eyes go wide when she hears the word “playroom.”

 

She picks the baby up and carries her sloppily, her arm circling Arlo’s belly in a way both her legs sway as Beca climbs the steps and walks into the playroom, instantly placing Arlo back on the floor and watching as she crawls towards a basket full of toys.

 

The playroom is probably a dream to all the children in the world. It’s huge, pretty much like all the other rooms this house has. There are rainbows painted in a pastel tone all over the white walls, a hanging chair that looks like a bubble, a slide and a little trampoline. The square-shaped shelves are placed low in the wall and the rows close to the floor are filled with so many books of all colors and genders.

 

A small table lays on the right corner next to the door. It contains papers, colored pencils, brushes and watercolor paints. There are an infinity of toys all around the floor and inside of baskets. They go from big dollhouses to tiny little cars.

 

And it’s a nice place, Beca thinks, even though Arlo isn’t big enough to really enjoy everything, like jumping on the trampoline or painting with watercolors without making a huge mess.

 

“What did you find there?” She approaches the baby and helps her get the toy she was pulling from the basket.

 

It’s a very simple toy. Just a big square with shaped holes all around it and the kid is supposed to put the right shapes in the right holes. Beca unlocks the tiny door and turns the toy upside down, throwing the colored blocks all around the floor and picking a blue square to hand it to Arlo.

 

She watches as the baby tries to push the square into a star-shaped hole and reaches out to guide Arlo’s hand to the correct one.

 

“Good job!” Beca cheers when the square hits the inside of the toy and Arlo claps. “Okay, next one!” She hands the baby a green circle and guides her hand once more.

 

“Can you say ‘green’?” Beca asks and the way Arlo blinks confused at her makes her repeat the word again and again.

 

Until Arlo babbles out, “gween.” And Beca is cheering again. Then she finds herself thinking that no, it isn’t that hard and she’s probably not going to kill the baby. But this thought only lasts for the next half an hour.

 

Arlo suddenly gets bored about everything in the room and lifts her right arm up, asking to be picked up while her left hand reaches out to rub her eyes.

 

She’s sleepy, Beca thinks.

 

But Arlo is whimpering when Beca starts rocking her and now she’s openly crying, literally screaming, and Beca just wants to throw the kid out of the window.

 

“What is wrong, baby girl?” She says in a high pitched voice, trying to make it sound soft instead of annoyed. “I thought you were sleepy.” Beca looks down at the red faced baby in her arms and decides on putting a song to play on her phone as an attempt to calm her down.

 

Only that she left her phone downstairs. So she’ll have to use her voice.

 

“Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo,” Beca sings, her voice barely above a whisper. “Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright.” There’s no sign of any improvement about Arlo’s humor, but Beca keeps singing anyway. “Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter.” She starts walking around the room, both her arms starting to burn from holding the baby for so long. “Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here.”

 

Arlo then shifts in Beca’s hold, clearly fighting against sleep. Beca keeps singing, repeating the last two verses four times until she’s holding a baby whose face is as red as her hair.

 

The nursery door cracks when Beca opens it and Arlo’s arms move in reflection. Beca makes a silent pray for her to not wake up, which doesn’t happen in the end and Beca clumsily places the baby into her crib before leaving the room in her tip toes, trying to be as quiet as possible.

 

She goes downstairs again and sits down on the huge beige couch, picking her purse to look for her phone. There are a few messages from Stacie and one from Chloe, asking if everything’s okay. Beca quickly answers Chloe and assures Stacie she hasn’t killed anyone yet, before settling down comfortably as she messes around her phone for a while.

 

A noise from upstairs alarms her and she literally runs upstairs to find Arlo still sleeping like an angel. Only one and a half hour into this babysitting thing and she’s already having these motherly paranoias?

 

Screw you, she says within her head to her very own mind.

 

There’s not much to do when you’re stuck within a house that’s not yours and watching a nine-month-old baby, so the only thing Beca can do is to wait until Arlo wakes up. She quickly loses herself while playing the 2787 Candy Crush level (she’s a pro, thank you very much.)

 

By the time the baby wakes up, Beca is on her fifth try and the clock is pointing Arlo’s slept for almost an hour, which means she might be hungry.

 

Which also means it’s almost time for Chloe to arrive.

 

In a rush, Beca’s in the kitchen with a happy baby on the high chair filling her two-teeth-filled mouth with pumpkin and carrot cubes.

 

And watching Arlo feed herself while babbling, “yummy!” over and over again is actually a sweet scene. So sweet Beca forgets to get the bib and then she’s looking at a baby full of food all over her face and onesie.

 

Sink baths isn’t something Beca is used to, but she isn’t used to play with babies either and she’s doing just fine, so she decides to give it a try. It’s not a complete bath anyway. All Beca needs to do is to clean the baby’s face and change her clothes, but a weird smell tells Beca that diaper needs to be changed too.

 

After a quick stop to the laundry room to leave the onesie, Beca enters the nursery and places the baby on the bed, looking back at her every second so she doesn’t fall on the floor, while grabbing everything she needs and walking back to the challenge she’s about to face. She catches Arlo almost at the edge of the bed and places the baby on her back, hoping it’d be easy, ‘cause it’s just baby diapers, ya know?

 

But it goes terrible.

 

Before Beca realizes there is poop on her hands and she tries to clean the whole thing quickly while not breathing through her nose. She tries to place the diaper twice before realizing it’s upside down, so she changes the angle and places it correctly.

 

Beca takes a step back, sighing deeply and admiring her handwork. She might be covered in baby shit, but she succeeded.

 

To kill the half an hour she still has with the baby, Beca leaves Arlo in the backyard where she can watch her while she washes the dishes, going to join her once she’s finished.

 

The backyard is a very warm place, the most welcoming one in Beca’s sincere opinion. There’s a fancy-looking table surrounded by wooden chairs next to the door and the rest of it is all grass, plants and more stuff for Arlo to play with.

 

There are swings, slides, a huger version of the trampoline in the playroom and a set of monkey bars.

 

She watches as Arlo crawls towards the baby swing and turns around, her chubby arms lifting, demanding to be picked up. Beca walks towards her and places her in the swing, smiling a little when Arlo giggles once she’s swinging back and fort.

 

There’s music coming from Beca’s phone and the scene in front of her is just so sweet Beca can’t help but capture the moment. It’s silly, she thinks, but there’s a small corner inside her mind telling her she might want to remember this moment someday.

 

The sun is warm, but not too hot, which makes Beca leave Arlo only in her diaper under the open blue sky.

 

When the music ends and No Diggity starts playing, Beca starts singing lowly and in an instant she’s gentle swaying her hips from side to side. Arlo laughs at that.

 

“Oh, you like that, don’t you?” Beca pocks the baby’s belly.

 

And then she’s dancing with real intention to keep that baby laughing, moving herself around the swing and tickling Arlo from time to time, who laughs out loud at Beca’s performance.

 

But eventually, Beca stops, not because the music ended, but to the sound of someone giggling behind her.

 

She turns to find Chloe walking towards them and, oh boy, here comes the blush.

 

“Mama!” Arlo exclaims once she spots Chloe, her chubby thighs swinging excitedly and her arms instantaneously lifting towards her mother.

 

“Hi, sweetie! Guess you had a good time with Beca, huh?” Chloe picks her daughter from the swing and turns to face Beca, whose face is as red as the baby’s hair. “Hi Beca,” a smirk takes form in Chloe’s features. “Great moves.”

 

Beca groans and blushes harder, hiding her face between her fingers, which makes Chloe laugh again. She follows Chloe until they reach the living room, where there’s a man standing in the doorway, looking down at his phone.

 

“Beca, this is my husband, Tom.”

 

Tom shakes Beca’s hand quickly and she barely has time to say anything before he excuses himself and rushes upstairs. Beca tells Chloe how her morning with Arlo went, and goes to pick her purse to leave, otherwise she’ll be too late to go to the label.

 

“Thank you so much, Beca. I hope Loey didn’t give you a hard time.”

 

Beca thinks about saying she was an angel, but those minutes before nap time were fucking scary.

 

She laughs a little. “Only when I was rocking her to sleep.”

 

Chloe shrugs. “Ugh, it happens all the time.” She opens the door and steps outside with Beca. “So, I’ll send you a message later.”

 

“Alright. Have a great day.” Beca starts walking towards her Uber and turns around to wave to Arlo. “Bye, Arlo!”

 

The rest of Beca’s day is the same of everyday. She arrives at the label, grabs coffee and snacks for very annoying people and listens to music producers asking each other for different ideas. She’s told to leave twice when she tries to say something.

 

It’s not a surprise she arrives home slamming the front door. Beca leaves her stuff by the couch and enters the tiny kitchen she shares with Stacie.

 

“Ugh, it smells so good!” She sits on a chair, sighing.

 

“Thanks! I’m cooking a bolognese lasagna.” Stacie turns to look at Beca. “How things went with the baby?”

 

Beca rolls her eyes in instinct before realizing her morning with Arlo wasn’t bad at all. “It was okay. I mean, she was not a pain in my ass. The house is a fucking mansion, Stacie! And the mother? Oh, my God. That Chloe Beale really is something else with those crazy blue eyes and the smile that never leaves her face.”

 

“Chloe Beale?” Stacie grabs her phone and types something before walking towards Beca. “Like, this Chloe Beale?”

 

Beca frowns when a picture of Chloe appears right on Stacie’s phone screen. “Why do you have a picture of her in your phone?”

 

Stacie’s eyes go wide and she reaches up to place a hand on her mouth. “Oh, my God, Beca! Chloe Beale is a fucking succeeded actress! She’s won like, two Oscars already. I can’t believe Aubrey didn’t tell me her friend was Chloe Beale. I would totally get the job myself.”

 

Beca breathes a nervous laugh out as Stacie keeps going on, telling her everything Stacie wants to know about Chloe Beale. She asks ao many questions, how’s the house, how Chloe is like in  person, if her baby looks like her. Too many questions for little Beca’s mind.

 

Beca quickly learns Chloe’s incredibly private with her personal life. She’s never posted anything Arlo-related on the internet, except from a picture where she’s holding Arlo’s little hand when she was born. So Chloe’s fans have never seen her daughter’s face.

 

And she thinks it’s pretty cool that Chloe doesn’t expose her daughter, but the moment Beca’s head hits the pillow, she starts to overthink things too badly, wondering if she’s going to be able to carry such responsibility that it is babysitting a celebrity’s kid.

 

But then her phone lights up with a message from Chloe telling her she’s got the job.

 

***

 

After a month of babysitting Arlo and going to the label afterwards, Beca is tired as fuck. Waking up at six in the morning and going to sleep midnight is not easy shit. Beca should sleep way before that if she wasn’t so determined to improve her mixes (and failing miserably.)

 

Most times she’s at home with Arlo, Tom is there too. He spends all the time upstairs, locked up inside his and Chloe’s bedroom and Beca doesn’t really get why she has to babysit a baby whose father is at home, too.

 

Another weird thing Beca realized is that Tom barely interacts with his daughter. It’s always just a “hey, Loey!” quickly threw across the room and then he’s gone, not even caring about the baby crying her lungs out while calling for him.

 

The situations are so uncomfortable, Beca learns it’s better to stay outside with Arlo. She starts with parks here and there, always close to the neighborhood, until she grows bolder. She takes Arlo to the beach, leaving her only in diapers the moment they get there. Beca smiles at the sight of Arlo crawling around and grabs her phone to take a picture, quickly sending it to Chloe before focusing on the baby again.

 

And it may be hard enough to believe, but Beca actually enjoys her time with Arlo more than she had expected to. There’s just something beautiful and peaceful about watching someone’s firsts in life and Beca gets herself thinking very often how is it possible she’s started like that, too. Little feet learning how to stand and a tiny heart learning how to love and to be loved.

 

When the wind gets colder, Beca dresses Arlo in her pink hoodie and jeans skirt again, leaving her barefoot while they finish together the last pieces of watermelon she’s packed. After it all is inside the baby’s mouth—and all over her face—Beca decides it’s time to leave. She packs the tupperware and blanket they were both sat onto and shoves the bag around her shoulder, before going on her knees to grab Arlo and place her on her hip as they walk towards the car.

 

The drive to Chloe’s house isn’t very long and Beca expects Arlo to sleep since they have  been at the beach all morning, but ten minutes after entering the car and Arlo is crying. Her screams are so loud Beca can’t focus on the road, so she parks near a field and leaves the car again, a hand moving through her hair and a puff of air leaving her lips. She puts Arlo’s yellow boots back on and places her on the floor again, following behind as the baby crawls in between the grass.

 

Arlo suddenly gets excited, her big blue eyes goes wide and she points forward before lifting her arms so Beca can pick her up. And only then Beca realizes they are walking through a huge sunflower field.

 

Beca’s seen sunflowers before, of course, but never so many ones at once and definitely not that big. They are beautiful and grow so high she needs to lift her chin if she wants to see them properly.

 

“Oh, good morning!” An old man approaches them. “What a beautiful little lady you have there! What is her name?”

 

“Hi,” Beca greets. “I’m Beca and this is Arlo.”

 

“Hello, Arlo! You’re beautiful just like your mother.” The man says and Beca is about to say she isn’t Arlo’s mother when he interrupts her, handing her a few sunflowers he probably had just picked up. “My name is Archie. Would you like to have these beautiful sunflowers, Arlo?”

 

Arlo throws her arms towards the flowers, her little legs swaying excitedly as the man lets her take the little bouquet from him. Beca puts her on the floor.

 

“How much are those?” She points to the yellow flowers.

 

Archie smiles gently and shakes his head. “Nothing. It’s a gift.”

 

Beca smiles back. “Thank you, Archie.”

 

“No problem. I have to go, so much to do in these fields.” Archie extends an arm to shake Beca’s hand. “It was so nice to meet you and your beautiful Arlo. Stay as long as wish and have a great day!”

 

“You too! Thank you so much!”

 

Beca looks down to refocus on Arlo and finds the little girl standing on her feet, both hands still firmly holding the sunflowers. She reaches for her phone on her back pocket and kneels down a few feet apart from Arlo, tapping on her phone to start recording a video for Chloe, before looking over it so she can talk to the baby. “Loey, can you smile for Mommy? Say hi to Mommy!”

 

Arlo giggles and lets one of her arms go in the phone’s direction, dropping a couple flowers on the floor as she babbles “Mommy!” over and over again. Beca takes a step back when she realizes Arlo’s getting ready to try and take a step and then the unexpected happens when Arlo not only takes a step, but clumsy walks the whole way to Beca’s arms.

 

“Good job, Loey!” Beca cheers as she stands, twirling the ten-month-old baby in her arms. She taps on her phone to stop recording and picks the fallen flowers from the ground before walking towards the car again.

 

And Arlo falls asleep almost instantaneously, never easing her hold on the sunflowers.

 

When Beca parks in front of the house, Chloe’s car is already there. She doesn’t find it weird, since it’s almost midday and Chloe usually arrives around this time for lunch before going back to the studios again, but the minute Tom leaves the house, almost dropping both Beca and Arlo on the way and aggressively taking the car keys from Beca’s hand, that’s when she realizes there’s something wrong.

 

She closes the door very quietly and places Arlo on the couch, taking the single sunflower that made it out of the car and following to the kitchen.

 

The scene Beca is faced with is heartbreaking, to say the least.

 

Chloe is sat on floor, legs curled up against her chest and head down between her knees. She’s crying, letting muffled sobs that make her whole body shake.

 

Beca leaves the flower on the island but doesn’t move her hand away. She has never been so out of place before, without knowing what do to.

 

Within the month she’s been babysitting Arlo, she got to talk a lot to Chloe. The first couple weeks were just little talks about the things Arlo did, or ate, or said, but soon the conversations grew to a personal side. They talked about teenage dreams and childhood stories, the things they used to hope from the world before they realized the world doesn’t promise anything to anyone.

 

“Well, you’re a very successful actress,” Beca said one day, letting an airy laugh out as she threw her hair behind her shoulders. “You have everything.”

 

Chloe fell silent for a while. They quietly watched as Arlo crawled around the backyard, grabbing some grass and lifting her dirty hands for her Mommy to see.

 

When Chloe spoke, she sounded lost. “I have my daughter. Nothing else.” 

 

Beca takes her hand away from where it was resting atop the sunflower and carefully takes a step towards Chloe.

 

“Chloe?”

 

Her voice leaves her low and careful, but it still makes Chloe jump and in a minute she’s standing. Chloe wipes her tears as if the act could magically make her eyes look less swollen and suddenly she’s offering Beca some tea and asking about Arlo.

 

Beca accepts the tea, al though she’s definitely not a tea person, but anything to stay a little longer breathing the same air of this woman she barely knows, but already feels like making whatever it takes to see those beautiful eyes sparkling with happiness. So Beca tries her best, saying silly things to make Chloe laugh and just trying to distract her from those purple bruises on the inside of her upper arms.

 

She doesn’t ask what they are and Chloe doesn’t mention them either, but the big fingertips make it pretty clear to Beca’s eyes what was happening before she arrived.

 

Beca’s card doesn’t allow her to enter the label that day. The lights in the corner of the electronic turn red and a big ‘X’ shows up on the screen. She walks to the reception, saying her name to the guy who’s sitting behind the desk.

 

The guy frowns before looking up to find Beca’s eyes. “Beca Mitchell? You’re fired.”

 

Just like that.

 

The consequences of arriving late to work three times in a week.

 

Beca spends the rest of the day in her bed, laptop in her lap, wishing every tap tap of her fingers against the mouse as she creates new beats could be enough to avoid her mind to question what she’s doing with her life. Why she feels so in awe of the baby she didn’t even plan to babysit, why it’s always so easy for Chloe to distract her. Why she can’t stop thinking about Chloe’s eyes, Chloe’s voice, Chloe’s smile and the bruises she saw earlier today.

 

If anyone had told Beca she was falling, she wouldn’t have believed them. She wouldn’t, because Beca doesn’t believe in love. She’s never seen it anywhere. And since she’s swimming in unknown waters, she can’t tell it starts just like this.

 

She barely talks to Stacie on dinner and although her best friend realizes there is something wrong, she doesn’t push any conversation around it, choosing to keep talking as much as possible about the hot guys she’s hanging out with.

 

When Chloe calls Beca almost midnight, an insecure, wavy voice asking if she can come over, Beca puts on the first hoodie and sweatpants she finds and eats her nails to the flesh while waiting for the Uber to arrive.

 

That’s another huge sign of love, but Beca doesn’t know that.

 

Chloe greets her with the same red swollen eyes Beca had seen before she left earlier today, a little embarrassed for calling so late and apologizing. They end up at Arlo’s playroom, Beca sat on the hanging bubble chair looking down at Chloe, and a bottle of wine between them. For a minute, Beca worries about Tom and ends up asking about him, her eyes going wide when she realizes the words just left her mouth.

 

“Oh,” Chloe starts, grabbing the wine from Beca’s hand and taking a sip from the bottle. “He’ll probably come back only on Saturday. It always happen when we fight.”

 

“But where does he stay?”

 

“Well, his family is from Kentucky, so he probably stays with a random chick he’s fucking. Not that I care.”

 

“Why are you still with him?”

 

Chloe blinks tiredly. “You know what, Bec, sometimes it’s just hard to tell who you have to go through a storm so you can see the sunshine and who’s just toxic and not meant to be in your life at all.”

 

Beca side eyes the place where she knows the purple bruises are hidden beneath Chloe’s hoodie. “Someone who’s not toxic would never hurt you, Chlo. In any way.” She replies, not sure when they got to nickname base, but not giving it a second thought. It’s probably the wine.

 

“I just...” Chloe takes another sip from the bottle. “I don’t think I recognize myself anymore.”

 

“Well, it’s easier to recognize your mistakes first. And when you learn how to fix them, you’ll be on your way to find yourself again.” Beca says quietly, realizing Chloe falls silent and it probably means she’s overthinking what she just said, so Beca changes the subject. “I was fired.” She takes the bottle from Chloe’s hand to have a sip.

 

“You...” Chloe blinks up at her. “Beca, I’m so sorry. It—it was because you stayed here with me today, wasn’t it? Oh, my God,” She reaches out to squeeze Beca’s knee. “I can pay you more, that’s not a problem at all. You just need to tell me how much—“

 

“Chloe, stop,” Beca says gently, placing a hand atop Chloe’s. “It’s okay, it really is. That label was a pain in my ass anyway.”

 

“Well, Arlo loves you.” It’s said in such a doubtless tone Beca isn’t sure Chloe said it only to make her feel any better.

 

She gives Chloe a half smile and remembers the video she took of Arlo at the sunflower field earlier. She didn’t have any time to show it to Chloe, so she grabs her phone to do so. “I recorded it this morning, before we came home.”

 

The deep love and admiration Beca sees reflected in the beauty of Chloe’s eyes shakes the rock she has built around her heart and lights a warm feeling up. A kind of feeling that looks just like the way Beca feels when she’s mixing in her laptop. And when she’s suddenly aware of it, she pushes the feeling away, or at least tries to, taking her hand away from where it was holding Chloe’s to run it through her hair as she hears her own voice talking to Arlo in the video playing on her phone.

 

When the video comes to an end, Chloe puts the phone on the floor and looks up at Beca. Her eyes are glassy and she sighs before she speaks, “You know what, Bec,” Another sigh, “I’ve met three different girls to babysit Loey before meeting you. They were so smiley at me it was annoying. When I arrived, my daughter was dressed as if we were going to a wedding. Those girls were trying to impress me, it was all pure interest. But do you know what made me choose you?” Beca shakes her head faintly. “You didn’t give a shit about who I am. When I came home, Arlo was in nappies and you were dancing to make her laugh. It was such a simple moment, you know? It was... beautiful.”

 

Beca’s lips are slightly opened and she reminds herself to close them and look away from Chloe’s eyes. “I was so fucking scared,” she laughs. “Honestly. I had never changed nappies in my life before and I’m a mess with kids.”

 

“You’re so not a mess with kids, Bec. You’re doing a great job with my little one and I’m thankful for it.”

 

“Well, I’m thankful I didn’t get her killed.” Beca jokes. Anything to make Chloe laugh. “And about what you said, that I didn’t give a shit about who you are... I’m just not one for movies, really. I had no idea. And, I, um...” Beca cleans her throat before she keeps going. “Well, I needed the money. So that was kind of an interest.”

 

Chloe’s hand squeezes her knee again. “You needed the money, but you didn’t come only to find out what my daughter looks like, Bec.”

 

Beca’s head tilts to the side. “Why do you keep saying my name when you finish your sentences?”

 

Chloe smiles. “Sorry, Bec?” 

 

“Chloe,” Beca laughs. So does Chloe. “Stop it!”

 

“You’re just so amazing... Bec.” Chloe smirks.

 

“You’re amazing too, Chlo.”

 

“You think so?” Is barely whispered by Chloe, voice heavy with doubt as if Beca’s words had just changed her world.

 

And Beca can’t look away from her lips. She slides closer, touching her forehead to Chloe’s before she almost has to slam herself on the face to wake up.

 

Chloe is marriedIt shouldn’t be happening.

 

And still, she never felt the need of kissing someone so badly the way she feels like she might die if she doesn’t kiss Chloe right now.

 

It takes everything she has, but Beca pulls away, her hand touching Chloe’s again. “It’s so late. I gotta go.”

 

And Chloe just nods.

 

They hug tightly when Beca’s Uber arrives, each woman allowing themselves to bury their heads on each other’s necks a few seconds longer.

 

They never talk about that.

 

***

 

Another month passes by in a blink of eyes. Chloe finishes shooting her new movie, what should mean Beca’s work with Arlo is done.

 

Only that, it kind of doesn’t.

 

They keep seeing each other every day. In the beginning there was always an excuse and Chloe would say, “I need to go to the grocery store but it’s too hot to take Loey with me and Rose only comes tomorrow. Would you mind coming over?” And Beca would go and spend the whole afternoon with them. But soon the messages were simpler. Chloe asking Beca to go to the beach with them, or to go strawberry picking, or buy the outfit Arlo’s gonna wear on her first birthday.

 

It wasn’t important what they were doing, but the fact they were together. That thought should be enough to scare Beca away, especially when random people would stop to ask her to take pictures of them with Chloe, but somehow the opposite happened, and she saw herself asking Chloe to go to the mall with her or, “hey, there’s this really cool park I took Loey once. What about we go there this afternoon?” The excuse didn’t matter, because Beca enjoyed Chloe and Arlo’s company.

 

When Stacie asks what is happening, Beca shrugs, shakes her shoulders and walks away.

 

Stacie follows her. “I’ve just never seen you like that before, Becs. Don’t you realize you just spent forty minutes talking to me about the plans for Arlo’s first birthday party?” They stop by Beca’s bedroom door.

 

“If it’s so annoying you can fucking ask me to stop talking.”

 

“That’s not my point here.” Stacie holds her friend by her shoulders. “You used to hate children, Beca. You run away from my nephews every time you come visit my family with me. What I’m trying to say is that you wouldn’t care so much about Arlo if you didn’t care about Chloe, too. You can’t listen to the love in your own voice, but I do. I’m trying to show you that.”

 

Beca stops trying to pull away from Stacie’s hold and faces her messy bedroom for a few slow seconds. She thinks about the day she saw the bruises on Chloe’s arm and the day, a week after that, she overheard Tom screaming at Chloe. And then there’s that feeling again, trying to flourish through the bricks placed so tightly against her heart. The anger comes, too, making Beca close her eyes tightly and wish she could be strong enough to take Chloe out of that man’s reach.

 

“I don’t know what’s going on, Stace.” She blinks when she realizes her eyes are glassy and a tear falls, traveling down her cheek and landing on the floor’s cheap carpet. “I have no fucking idea what’s happening right now.”

 

“Oh, Becs,” Stacie embraces Beca’s small body that seems even tinier in the moment. “You’re scared because you’ve never felt like that before. But it’s okay to be scared of what you don’t know.” They enter the room and lie down on the bed, facing each other. “Listen, if you were in complete darkness, where the only thing you could see was an even darker hole and someone tells you that if you jump into that hole you’ll live in peace and happiness forever, you wouldn’t jump, would you?” Beca shakes her head. “Most people wouldn’t, because they would need something to prove them that it’s worth it. Something to make that fear go away. That’s the situation you’re in right now.”

 

“I don’t see how—“

 

“You’re too scared to jump into this big love vacuum because the only relationship you have ever seen was your parents’ problematic one. But when you find someone who makes you feel brave enough to face this fear, you’ll take the leap.” Stacie’s lips tilt in a smirk. “And I think you’ve already met her.”

 

“God, when did you become that wise?”

 

That makes Stacie laugh. “I’m a box of surprises.” She pocks Beca’s side. “But now, come on. Tell me everything.”

 

“Ugh, I don’t even know where to start.”

 

“Start from the beginning.”

 

***

Chloe Beale

Can we meet? Anywhere, please. I don’t wanna stay home tonight.

 

Beca Mitchell

Is everything okay?

 

“Beca, you’re ready?” The bartender of the restaurant asks.

 

She looks down at her phone to read Chloe’s newest messages.

 

Chloe Beale

No.

 

We had a fight again.

 

I’m with Arlo and I don’t wanna bother you, especially when you don’t work at Saturdays, but I don’t know what do to.

 

Beca sighs, feeling the anger burning in her chest. She sends the address to Chloe and signs to Stacie walk towards her.

 

“Chloe is coming with Loey. Stay close to the entrance and when she arrives, take her to those tables on the corner. Can you do that for me?”

 

“Of course. But why—“

 

“Just... don’t ask anything right now, okay? I’ll explain later.”

 

She watches as Stacie walks in a sea of modern wooden tables to stay by the big entrance at the same time her name is announced. Beca takes a deep breath, holding the electric guitar close to her chest before placing her fingers correctly and playing the first notes.

 

It’s the first time Beca’s playing something in a low-key restaurant instead of DJ-ing in clubs. She decided to take the risk of doing something different, to challenge herself in a different level. Before that, Beca had used her voice only for especial effects on her mixes, so her timbre is shaky during the firsts paragraphs, until she grows confident in the chorus.

 

The night‘s setlist is pop-rock, so Beca chose the songs beforehand and passed them to the band who was going to play with her.

 

And it’s not that hard, she finds herself thinking when she’s a minute into the third song. She only has to close her eyes when the music requires a high note she’s not sure she can reach, but within the darkness she finds out that she can, and does it beautifully.

 

After Chloe arrives with Arlo, Beca’s eyes don’t close anymore. They focus on those faces she learned to love in such a short period of time and don’t look away. Not even when Chloe smiles at her. Beca had planned two bonus songs, but when the last song of the original setlist comes to an end, she almost runs out of the small stage to wrap her arms around Chloe.

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come greet you when you first arrived.” Is spoken into the crook of the Chloe’s neck.

 

“Are you kidding me? That was fucking amazing, Beca!” Chloe literally jumps in excitement. “I had no idea you could sing!”

 

“Wait until you listen to the mixes this girl makes,” Stacie jumps in, “th ey are incredible. Beca’s got, like, super talented fingers.”

 

“Oh, my God, Stacie!” Beca hides behind her fingers, feeling the blush filling her cheeks.

 

“I’m sure she does.” Chloe says with a smirk, but her face isn’t playful. She looks serious and Beca couldn’t tell, but there was some desire creeping in the blue of Chloe’s eyes.

 

“Shup up.” It’s all that makes it out of Beca’s mouth and she playfully slams Chloe on her waist before taking Arlo from Stacie’s lap and sitting next to her.

 

Chloe moves to sit in front of them. “But you know, I have a friend that is surely going to love your voice. Cynthia-Rose, I guess you might’ve heard of her. Give me some of your mixes so I can send her.”

 

“Oh, I’ll totally make sure you have your pretty hands on those mixes.” Stacie says, taking a sip from her drink. “But Beca might want you to touch something else... something softer, you know.”

 

“Fuck you.” Beca mouths, laughing and blushing. “I need a drink.”

 

Chloe laughs. “I’ll take another one, too!”

 

It ends up being an amazing night. Except for Stacie’s inappropriate comments that make Beca want to crawl under the table (no matter how true they are,) they have fun. A few people recognize Chloe and approach their table, asking for pictures and making small talk with them for a few minutes. A couple notice Arlo, too.

 

“Oh my God, is that your baby?” A blonde woman asks. “Aw, she’s beautiful. She looks so big already! What is her name again?”

 

Chloe answers the question and very politely asks for her daughter not to be pictured.

 

Stacie whispers in Beca’s ear she’s done drinking after a couple glasses, because someone needs to be sober enough to drive Chloe’s car.

 

They only leave around one in the morning. Beca carries a sleeping Arlo on her hip, walking behind Chloe and Stacie. Before they reach the street, she stops and takes her jacket off her shoulders to wrap the baby with it, for the wind is too cold outside.

 

“Stay here,” Stacie approaches her. “I’m going to pick the car, it’s parked two streets down.”

 

When Stacie leaves, Chloe replaces her, standing right in front of Beca, but not stopping there and wrapping her arms around the smaller woman’s waist.

 

“You know,” Beca feels the redhead’s breath ghosting against her skin. “These last few weeks I’ve been wanting to have enough courage to change things. Make them... different, you know?” Chloe brushes her nose against Beca’s neck slowly. There are strong white flashes shining and going away, but Beca’s too distracted to pain attention to them. “To raise my baby in an environment that’s not toxic. With someone who’s not toxic and who I’m sure would take good care of us. And I would take care of you, too, Bec.” A kiss is placed to the smaller woman’s neck and another white flash cuts the dark streets.

 

Only then things fall into place in Beca’s mind and she pulls away, eyes wide and fearful. “Chloe, they are taking pictures of us!”

 

Chloe turns her head in a rush, spotting a single man on the other side of the street. Her hand lifts to find her mouth and she’s shaking, making Beca believe she instantly sobered up. “Beca... I’m so sorry. I just—oh, my God, this is bad. This is really bad!” She takes Arlo from Beca’s arms to slide into the backseat of her car when Stacie arrives and Beca follows her, choosing to sit by her side instead of the passenger seat.

 

The quick drive to Beca and Stacie’s apartment is spent in a deadly uncomfortable silence. Chloe looks through the window all the time, holding her daughter tightly against her chest and refusing to meet Beca’s eyes, so the only thing Beca can do is reach out and lace their fingers together, feeling her body relaxing when Chloe squeezes her hand.

 

“Look, this isn’t as fancy as your house.” Is whispered before the apartment door opens.

 

“Beca, I don’t care. It’s okay.”

 

Beca manages to say a quick thanks to her best friend before entering her room after Chloe and Arlo. Beca starts pulling some blankets and extra pillows from her small wardrobe to arrange her provisory bed on the floor when Chloe touches her arm.

 

“I won’t take you out of your own bed.”

 

“And I won’t make you and Loey sleep in this tiny space that’s clearly not enough for a bug.” Beca stops, looking at the pillow in her hands. “Actually, I think I’m going to the living room. It’s better to give you some privacy.”

 

“Bec, stop.” Chloe’s finger brushes the soft skin of Beca’s forearm. “It’s your place. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

 

“Oh, my God,” Beca rolls her eyes. “That couch won’t have enough place for you two, Chlo. And it’s so uncomfortable.”

 

“Then we’ll sleep right here. On your bed. It’s okay, I don’t mind.”

 

Beca sighs. “Fine.”

 

She gives Chloe a flannel shirt and sweatpants and leaves her room to change and wash up before coming back to find the redhead taking the tiny clothes out of Arlo’s tiny body and replacing them with an orange onesie full of cute foxes.

 

“You’re such a great mom, you know.”

 

Chloe smiles at Beca’s words, positioning herself to lie close to the wall and pulling her daughter closer to her body to leave enough room for Beca. “I’m trying my best.”

 

Beca shifts under the blankets, lying on her side to face Chloe. “I’m serious. Loey is so lucky to have you.”

 

Chloe’s cheeks turn a light shade of pink. “Thank you.” She takes a few messy red curls away from her face. “And thank you for tonight. I had so much fun.”

 

It’s Beca’s turn to smile. “Me too.”

 

She’s fighting against eyes heavy with sleep that are almost forcing her to pass out, but Beca doesn’t want to sleep yet. She wants her eyes open and looking at the scene in front of her, capturing the sparkle in Chloe’s eyes and the way Arlo’s little chest goes up and down as she breathes calmly. Every little detail of this moment matters, so Beca tries her best to memorize it and place it into a safe folder in her brain.

 

And when she inevitably loses the battle, she feels Chloe’s hand joining hers atop Arlo’s belly. Beca didn’t even notice her hand was placed there, but somehow she needed to feel like she’s keeping that baby safe from the world’s cruelty, even though they actually are pretty safe between those walls.

 

In her last conscious minutes, Beca interlaces her fingers with Chloe. She didn’t take the leap, not yet, but the feeling of Chloe’s hand fitting perfectly into hers makes Beca pretty aware that’s just a matter of time until she finally does.

 

***

 

Holding an almost-one-year-old baby and a couple of grocery bags while managing to open the front door of her apartment is not something Beca does gracefully. But she succeeds, placing Arlo on the floor once they’re in and the baby takes two steps before falling forwards and crawling the rest of the way to the small kitchen.

 

Beca quickly follows her, entering the kitchen to find Stacie and Chloe casually talking to each other while drinking their morning coffee.

 

The smile comes so naturally Beca doesn’t even notice it. Because she could totally get used to it. Falling asleep beside Chloe and waking up to a smiling baby lifting her little fingers up in her direction. Mornings at the grocery shop with Arlo while Chloe’s still asleep, waiting for them to return not only at Beca’s place, but in Beca’s bed, her messy red curls spread around Beca’s pillow and her smell impregnating Beca’s sheets. Arriving home to find Chloe and her best friend having coffee together, Arlo crawling towards Chloe while Stacie wordlessly teases her with a smirk on her lips, it all somehow makes Beca feel complete. And it’s such a strange feeling for someone who used to think of spending her entire life trying to find the missing pieces of a puzzle that would never be complete.

 

But yes, Beca definitely could get used to it.

 

Chloe looks up to Beca from where she’s sitting. “Where did you girls go?”

 

And Stacie doesn’t give any space for Beca to answer. “Beca woke up really worried about not having strawberries and blueberries to cook Arlo’s pancakes.”

 

Of course Beca was blushing even before Stacie finished the sentence. But Chloe smiles. “Aw, Bec! You didn’t have to worry about that.”

 

“Besides, Beca, did you realize what’s in Chloe’s hands?” Chloe lifts her hand up, showing a pen drive. “That’s exactly what you’re thinking. I gave her one of the pen drives you gave me with your mixes so she can—hey! Don’t give me that look!” Stacie lifts a finger when Beca adverts her with her eyes. “I made it for your own good.” And then she winks.

 

Beca isn’t mad at all. She just feels insecure of not being good enough. But she’ll have all the time in the world to think about that, because right now she needs to cook some pancakes for a hungry baby.

 

Chloe and Arlo chill in Beca and Stacie’s apartment until late afternoon. More memories Beca wants to keep forever. When it’s time to go, Chloe asks Beca to come to her place with her, so she does. And she probably shouldn’t go, but the thought of everything going wrong that afternoon never crossed her mind.

 

Looking back to that day, Beca isn’t sure she regrets anything she’s done. She only wishes it hadn’t happened  that way.

 

Chloe’s house is all dark when they arrive. Arlo is sleeping, so they leave her in the nursery before following to Chloe’s room.

 

“I wanna show you something.” Chloe tells her and enters her closet, asking Beca to wait in her room.

 

Beca sits on the floor next to the end of the bed and waits until Chloe returns. She has no idea what Chloe is looking for, but she certainly never imagined Chloe was going to come back with a dried sunflower between her fingers.

 

Chloe sits beside her. “Look, I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just... say it. Tom and I are married for three and a half years. Our vows were meant to be forever, but ended up a year after that. We got engaged so quickly and I was so... obsessed with him. I used to think it was fascinating the way he brought me flowers all the time and used to tell me how much he loved me, always doing everything to please me.” She pauses, choosing the correct words to say next. “It took me a year to realize that even with all that, he was never really here with me. And he was getting... possessive. He never really hit me, but he was controlling me. I couldn’t go out to see my best friend without him calling me all the fucking time, asking where I was, what I was doing, when I was coming back home... I was suffocating. Still am.”

 

Chloe pauses once more, taking a deep breath, probably to hold the sobs her wavy voice warns Beca are coming. And there’s nothing Beca can do other than listen and encourage Chloe to keep talking, so she does, reaching out to lace their fingers together and whispering, “I’m here, Chlo.” Her words also encouraging some tears to free themselves from Chloe’s eyes. Beca wipes them away. “It’s okay, let it all go. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Another deep breath and then Chloe is talking again. “My career was going so great, Bec. It all was happening at the same time I won that Academy Award and even though I was broken on the inside, I couldn’t look ungrateful. So I was always happy, always smiling.”

 

“You’re a human being, Chloe. You don’t have to look happy all the time, no matter if people are always photographing you.”

 

“I know. But I just felt so guilty, you know?” Beca nods, squeezing Chloe’s hand. “When I got pregnant I thought things were going to change. He was so excited to become a dad. He asked me to name our baby after his grandfather who passed away right before she was born, so I did, even though I never considered to name my baby girl Arlo. But everything just got worse. I always knew he was cheating on me, but I never cared about that. I should’ve known before it clearly shows me I’m not in love with him. Maybe I’ve never been.” Chloe looks down at the sunflower on her hand before looking up at Beca again. “So I guess people forgot to tell me me that forever does end. You just have to stop caring. The day you took Loey to the field and brought this sunflower home was the day I woke up. I don’t want to live like that anymore, I can’t live like that anymore. And it’s so ironic how life works, because you were supposed to be here only to take care of my daughter, but ended up being so much more. You sparked things inside me since day one, Bec. Things that I was aching to feel again. And those things Stacie teases us about... you have no idea how much I want them to happen.”

 

Beca tries to start talking, but Chloe lifts a finger.

 

“And I... there’s this little part inside me that tells me you might want them to happen, too.”

 

Chloe leaves the sunflower on the floor to hold Beca’s face between her hands, gently stroking the other woman’s cheekbone. And the look on her face is so full of pain, Beca wants to hold her strongly and never let her go. She wipes Chloe’s tears and slides closer. Their foreheads touch, their noses brush against each other’s. Beca feels the ghost of Chloe’s breath on her lips and reaches out to mimic her position, placing her hands on Chloe’s cheeks.

 

And in this third almost-moment between them, Beca catches herself wanting to kiss all that pain away from that woman’s face. But something inside her twists and screams inside her brain, make things the right way at least once.

 

So Beca kisses the tip of Chloe’s nose before pulling away. “I want to, Chlo. But... not like this.” She searches stability on the way Chloe looks at her. “Do you understand?” Chloe wipes her nose and looks down, nodding. Beca wraps her arms around the redhead’s neck, closing her eyes and breathing Chloe in. “I promise I’ll take you out of this.”

 

Her neck is all wet, but Beca couldn’t care less, she only holds Chloe and lets her cry her heart out. And maybe if they weren’t so distracted, they would have been able to hear the door slamming downstairs before Tom reached the room.

 

If his voice didn’t tell Beca he’s angry, his eyes certainly would. “What the fuck is that, Chloe?”

 

They aren’t doing anything wrong, but still, Chloe pulls away abruptly and stands. Tom is practically throwing his phone into Chloe’s face, who tries to understand what the screen contains before he throws it on the floor and keeps talking. “Have you been fucking her all this time?”

 

Beca tilts her body towards the phone on the floor. There are pictures of them the night before, when Chloe hugged her by the waist and buried her face in Beca’s neck. It’s possible to see Arlo’s face perfectly, too. A few close up pictures catches her features as the baby slept, her head supported by Beca’s shoulder.

 

It’s so much to take in, Beca doesn’t really catches what’s being said. But Chloe yells and Tom yells louder, both throwing out insults at each other. She watches it happen almost in slow motion, until Tom holds Chloe by her wrists.

 

“You’re hurting me,” Chloe says firmly, even though her voice waves.

 

But it doesn’t look like Tom hears anything. His hold on Chloe’s wrists seems to tighten even more and she twists, trying to free herself. Beca stands, pulling Chloe away by the hem of her shirt and she isn’t sure who’s more surprised she did something, because Chloe looks at her like she didn’t even remember Beca was right there watching everything.

 

“You’re not doing anything to her while I’m here.”

 

Tom laughs ironically, pulling Beca away by her arms. It wasn’t forceful, but he’s strong and Beca is small. She ends up hitting her head on the wall behind him, a wet trail on her forehead telling her she’s got a cut.

 

Arlo is screaming in the background and Beca has no idea how long she has been awake. She tries to move, but her vision is foggy from the impact on the wall and she feels dizzy. But the minute Chloe leaves in a rush and Tom follows, all the most terrible insults falling from his mouth, Beca doesn’t know where she finds the strength to get up and run after him.

 

In the end, Beca does the only acceptable thing.

 

She takes the leap.

 

And Tom falls downstairs.

 

***

 

The memories of that moment still don’t make sense in Beca’s mind. From time to time she still thinks about that, trying to understand which crazy circumstance of the universe made her feel brave enough to face Tom. He didn’t die, but he got hurt.

 

Stacie tells her it was the deep love she feels for Chloe and Arlo, so Beca gave up fighting the thought of loving someone. Because she found out love comes in every little act of her relationship with Chloe. It’s on the tender, insecure first kiss they share, weeks after that night. It’s on the way Chloe whispers she doesn’t want to be alone in the new house. Arlo clapping excitedly when they sing happy birthday to her in a small celebration they had, instead of the big party that never happened. Chloe exploding in tears after Beca tells her she’s working with Cynthia-Rose.

 

They never hear about Tom again.

 

As bad as his marriage with Chloe was, Beca took a few good lessons from that. Too much love may suffocate, too much freedom may freak one out. The perfect balance between the two Beca still doesn’t know, but she learns a little more every day, making mistakes and working to make things right, falling down and getting up, hurting and apologizing.

 

She also questions a lot, a habit she realized it’s healthy if you don’t overthink things too badly. It’s something she thinks it’s great for everybody to ask themselves, in any kind of relationship, “What if you are the crazy memory in someone’s life?”

 

“Have you ever built a jail without realizing it? Or maybe you lived in one?”

 

And whatever the answers are, people shouldn’t be afraid of them. When people question, they get to know more of themselves as human beings and that’s the only way to identify the mistakes and learn from them.

 

Chloe starts having trouble to sleep and insomnia can be dangerous if you have too many things to wonder. But Beca is always by her side, not letting her beautiful girlfriend’s thoughts bring the fear out.

 

Paranoia comes too. After they have their first discussion, Beca wakes up in the middle of the night to the sound of Arlo crying. She makes sure to put the baby down to sleep again and follows to the kitchen to have a glass of water. Chloe appears minutes later, eyes reflecting her uncontrollably heart bracing herself for something bad, but instead, Beca reaches out and feels Chloe melting into her chest instantly when she assures her, “I’m never going to leave you.”

 

When their first anniversary comes, Chloe asks Beca to take her to the sunflower field she took Arlo last year. Somehow, Archie recognizes Beca and smiles big and wide when Arlo runs in front of her.

 

“Hello, Beca! Your little girl looks so grown up!” He looks at Chloe. “Is that your wife? You’re such a beautiful family.”

 

Beca’s about to correct him when Chloe speaks, “I am,” She shakes Archie’s hand. “Thank you so much.”

 

They follow Arlo between the fields for a while and when Archie stops with the two-year-old a few steps ahead of them, Beca turns to face Chloe, a playful smirk on her lips. “So I’m your wife now?”

 

Chloe only smiles. “I want you to be.”

 

Beca chokes, the butterflies wild in her stomach. “Are you asking to marry me?”

 

Chloe laughs and brings Beca closer to peck her lips a couple times. “I just feel like we’ve been through a lot together. Even though we’re both so young, I feel like we grew years after what happened.” Chloe laces their fingers together. “My mom always told me ‘some people break walls and some build bridges.’ Loey broke the wall. You built the bridge.”

 

Beca looks at Arlo from where they are. The tiny little one who made her a mother two years ago, even though she never even considered having kids. She smiles, turning her glassy eyes to look at the woman who made it possible. “That’s so beautiful, baby.”

 

“I don’t have a ring here or at home, but I just want you to know you’re it for me and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

 

She wraps her arms around Chloe’s neck. “Well,” She whispers against Chloe’s lips. “Yes, I do.”

 

Chloe giggles, her hands finding their way to Beca’s waist. “I didn’t even ask yet, Bec.”

 

“You’ve got my answer already.”

 

Beca let go of all the insecurities that used to hold her back. She was careful at the beginning of their relationship because Chloe was fragile and had just gotten out of a toxic relationship. But there isn’t the feeling of rushing anything, because they already had a child before they even kissed. So it’s okay and Beca is sure as long as Chloe is by her side, holding their daughter’s  other hand as they grow together towards the sun, just like sunflowers do.

 

In the end, Beca got her dream job, but it’s nothing when compared to everything she has beside Chloe. The realization celebrities’ lives are not always glamour and success. That the most important things in life aren’t things.

 

After Beca’s parents divorced when she was little, she got the feeling she grew many years in a single week, leaving the child she once was forgotten in the middle of a road that would never take her back home. But it doesn’t matter how the kid became a girl, because this is a story of how the girl became a woman.

 

The story of two old souls, a baby and a sunflower.