A few days later, Beca was sat on the edge of her hospital bed, practically jumping out of her own skin with impatience as she waited for the doctor to discharge her. Chloe stifled a laugh knowing that her girlfriend had cabin fever from being stuck in a hospital bed for so long. The Bellas had been there every day, at one point even bringing a picnic, none of them wanting to go home until they could all go together. On searching Hobart’s boat, their phones had been recovered, and it meant that Stacie could join in from her and Aubrey’s apartment, and there had been plenty of adorable photos of the newest member of the family to distract them all from the events that had landed Beca in hospital. None of them had spoken about what had happened, which was arguably not the healthiest course of action, but nobody was questioning it. It was easier this way.
“Where is this doctor? Shouldn’t she be here by now? What is taking her so long?” Beca whinged, swinging her legs like an impatient child.
“I’m sure she’ll be here soon baby. She’s probably busy with an emergency.” Chloe got up from her seat, standing in front of her girlfriend and tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear and smiling softly.
“But I wanna go home nowwww…” Beca pouted, looking up at her girlfriend. She got goosebumps; Chloe Beale was her girlfriend. She looked deep into the blue eyes of the woman she loved, and saw the lingering despair that had seemed to be becoming a permanent fixture. She knew Chloe was hiding something from her, but she also knew that pushing her was not the way to go; she simply had to wait until Chloe was ready.
“Hello ladies, where’s the gang today?” The doctor grinned, entering the room as Beca smiled eagerly.
“They’re waiting for us at the hotel-” Chloe started, quickly cut off by an overly eager Beca.
“So can I go home now?” The brunette’s impatience radiating off her in waves, practically jumping up and down on the edge of the bed.
“Almost, I need to do one more set of checks and then I can approve your discharge.”
“And we can do that now right?”
The doctor laughed and nodded her head, checking the brunette’s pulse as Beca sat impatiently waiting for it to be done. After a few more checks, the doctor turned to the impatient couple smiling softly, “Looks like you’re all good to go Beca! You need to keep an eye on that wound, no operating heavy machinery for at least two weeks, and your doctor at home will need to start you on a repeat prescription of antibiotics, but all that aside, you are free to go.”
“YES!” Beca cheered, throwing her arms in the air, then wincing as pain coursed through her abdomen, instantly regretting it.
“Okay… don’t do that either. I felt like that was self-explanatory, but okay…” The doctor grinned. She would definitely miss the brunette and her friends, but she was relieved that Beca had healed with no further complications. It was good to see her on her own two feet; her girlfriend clearly needed all the support she could get.
“I’ll keep her in check, don’t you worry.” Chloe promised, a soft smile gracing her lip as Beca stood up, intertwining her fingers with hers, grabbing a little bag that had cards, gift shop presents, and some toiletries in, and walked hand-in-hand with the redhead through the corridors and out of the hospital, into the bright sunshine of the Cayman Islands. ‘Yikes… it’s super bright when you’ve been inside for like four days…’ Beca flinched against the sunlight, shielding her eyes from the sun. As her eyes adjusted to the harsh light, she gasped lightly, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes.
The Bellas stood, wide grins plastered on their faces, Jessica and Ashley holding either end of a banner that said “Welcome Home Beca!” . It was clearly homemade, but that just made her love it even more. Along with the banner, there were balloons, and Emily was clutching a huge teddy bear that was as tall as Emily, which meant it was going to absolutely dwarf Beca.
“WELCOME HOME BECA!” The Bellas cheered, tears in everyone’s eyes as Beca ran in for a hug, quickly tangled in the banner, balloons, and arms of her friends. Chloe hung back, watching the woman she loved wrapped in the arms of the women she adored, a soft smile tugging at her face. She’d arranged all this, wanting Beca to be treated like the queen she was. After everything that she’d been through, it was the least she deserved. But if she was being honest with herself, she wanted the attention off of her. She didn’t need them asking questions she didn’t want to, and couldn’t answer. Aubrey had obviously seen right through it, but Chloe had brushed it off.
“So that’s okay with everyone? I’ll get the doctor to discharge Beca at about noon, and you guys wait outside the hospital to surprise her yeah?” Chloe beamed.
“Sounds great! Ooo, I could get her one of those huge bears, y’know the human sized ones?” Emily’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“Wait-” Chloe started. There was no way that thing was going to fit in their tiny studio apartment.
“Oh I saw one in this tourist shop, had the cutest bow!” Flo gushed, her and Emily already heading down the hallway and out of the hospital. Jessica, Ashley, Cynthia-Rose, Amy and Lilly hurrying after them, all cooking up new ideas for gifts, the bear seeming to be getting a hugely oversized family. Aubrey limped after them, still encumbered by her crutches.
“I’ll make sure they limit their giant bear buying to one.” She giggled, putting a hand on Chloe’s arm. The blonde saw past the fake smile on her friend’s face to the dull hue to her usual sparkling blue eyes. All she wanted to do was help her friend, “I know why you’re doing this Chlo.”
The redhead sighed softly, “Not now Bree, okay? I can’t...”
“Okay…” Aubrey nodded. She left the room, looking back and watching as Chloe sat next to a sleeping Beca, tucking her hair behind her ear, sighing again. “I wish I knew how to help you Chloe…” she whispered, following her friends.
Chloe wrapped her arms herself, watching the cheerful scene unfold. She loved these women so much, so why was it so hard to let them in? Especially Beca. Dear, sweet, beautiful Beca who loved her back. No. She couldn’t. They’d hate her. Some things should never be shared. Could never be said,
“I can’t believe you guys did all this!” Beca was grinning from ear to ear, slowly untangling herself and wincing a little.
“It was all Chloe’s idea y’know.” Aubrey smiled, nodding towards the redhead. Beca, finally untangled, whirled round to face her girlfriend a look of fond disbelief on her face.
“You did all this for me?”
“Of course I did weirdo, I love you…” Chloe plastered another fake smile on her face, the brunette walking over to rejoin her, draping her arms around her neck.
“I love you more…” Beca smiled, stretching upwards as she pulled Chloe into a soft, heartfelt kiss. Despite the crushing emptiness inside her, the redhead couldn’t help but smile against her girlfriend’s lips, returning the kiss to wolf whistles from her friends. Maybe this was all she needed. Maybe Beca loving her was enough to heal all the hurt, all the pain, all the emptiness would go away as long as she had her, right?
“All right lovebirds, break it up!” Jessica teased, carefully folding the banner away.
“Yeah, there’s a private jet waiting for us guys, come onnnn!” Cynthia-Rose had a devilish grin on her face.
“Wait, a private what?” Beca’s head whipped round, Chloe giggling at the look of pure excitement on her face.
“Apparently it’s the least the army could do for not protecting us properly in Nice, cos apparently it’s soooo easy to predict the actions of a mad Australian crime lord… sorry Amy.” Emily winced, realising she’d put her foot in it.
“It’s fine!” Amy half laughed, biting her tongue, “You’re not wrong are you?” She couldn’t be mad at her friends when she knew they were right.
“Anyway, I think they’re just trying to avoid a potential lawsuit, but we should absolutely take advantage of it!” Aubrey diplomatically changed the subject, winking suggestively at the rest of them. There was a collective murmur of agreement from the group as they headed towards the waiting limo.
“Wait, a limo too? I should get myself shot more often…” Beca remarked, an arm around Chloe’s waist, eyebrow raised in mischief. Chloe simply rolled her eyes in response, pressing herself against the brunette. The Bellas clambered into the limo, letting Aubrey get in first so she could get settled and put her crutches somewhere safe. The others quickly climbed in and settled, much calmer than they had been in the last black vehicle they were in.
As the limo set off, there were giggles a plenty, the complimentary champagne flowing as the girls celebrated that at long last, they were finally heading home. Back to normality. Sure that meant they’d be splitting up again, Jessica back to Seattle to start her surgical residency, Ashley back to D.C. as a translator. Flo would return to Chicago to start up her franchise, Lilly to… wherever she’d been before they’d gone to the reunion. Cynthia-Rose was going to start her Air Force training in Philadelphia, Emily back to Barden to finish college, and Aubrey, Amy, Beca and Chloe would return to New York. It was hard to be a family when you were scattered across four time zones, but if one good thing was going to come out of this ordeal, it was that they were going to try a lot damn harder to keep in touch, to remain connected. Beca let the warm feeling of alcohol settle in, surrounded by her friends that were starting to sing like it had all just been an ordinary trip. She smiled contentedly, her head resting on Chloe’s shoulder, her anxiety slowly dissipating (was it Chloe or the booze? Right now she didn’t care.), watching her family start to relax. It was all over. They were going home at long, long , last.
“You know what?” Emily sighed, stretching her legs as they stepped onto the runway in New York, “I’m telling Benji that we’re spending Christmas at Barden… I don’t want to travel anywhere for at least a year now.”
Flo laughed, wrapping her arms around the tall Bella, “What, not even for a reunion dinner?” She teased.
“Oh come on, like that’s a fair choice! Maybe we can all do Christmas together… as long as there are NO boats, and No windowless vans involved.” Emily giggled.
“Well you just take all the fun out of Christmas don’t you!”
The other Bellas laughed and joked as they entered the airport, heading for baggage claim. The flight had been three hours, but the closer they got to home the longer it seemed to take to get there. But, at long last, they were actually home. Aubrey lagged behind the others, hands and arms aching from using the crutches, her leg throbbing from the bullet wound. She was trying to be upbeat and happy, but the pain, mixed with her concern for Chloe and sheer exhaustion just made her want to sit down right there on the tarmac. Chloe saw that Aubrey was tired and gently kissed Beca’s temple.
“I’m gonna walk with Bree, is that okay?” Beca glanced back at the tall blonde and nodded.
“Course it is.” Beca squeezed her hand before letting it go, watching the redhead turn towards their struggling friend. This is why she loved Chloe. Smiling softly, she caught up with Jessica, dragging her ridiculously sized bear along with her.
“Hey slowpoke, you doing okay?” Chloe asked, smiling softly. Aubrey opened her mouth to say something catty, but stopped. She might be deflecting, but her friend was just trying to help her.
“Sick to death of these damn things…” she grumbled, huffing.
“Do you want to stop for a sec? You can lean on me, take the pressure off your hands?”
Aubrey gave her a tired smile, knowing that her offer was genuine, “Thanks Chloe… but I just want to get home now. I miss my wife, I want to meet my daughter, I want a bubble bath…”
“Any particular order to all of that?” Chloe giggled, knowing her friend all too well.
“Hm, I’m thinking bath, then wife and baby at the same time?” The blonde laughed, joking (mostly) with her friend as she took her mind off her aching body. They walked over at Aubrey’s pace, discussing bubble baths and bath bombs in an attempt to take both their minds off the trouble and pain they were feeling.
Beca grinned widely as the two stragglers caught up, “Hey, I got your luggage babe…” she said, planting a soft kiss on Chloe’s lips.
“Oh, it’s fine, I’ll just get my own shall I? You know, with my free hand?” Aubrey sneered sarcastically.
“No, someone else grabbed yours.” Beca waved vaguely in the other direction, watching as Aubrey turned round, trying to stifle a laugh.
“What’re you doing?” Chloe whispered as Beca’s laugh threatened to overwhelm her the more she suppressed it. The brunette simply put a finger to her lips, subtly nodding in the direction that she’d gestured in before. Chloe let out a little gasp of delight, nodding at Beca to signal her silence.
“Great I’ll just figure out who someone is then, it’s not like there’s loads of someone’s in an airpor-” Aubrey’s sentence trailed off, as her eyes found the ‘someone’. A watery grin was spread across her face as she tilted her head to one side.
“Hey baby…” Stacie grinned, tears slipping down her face as she finally laid eyes on her wife for the first time since she’d left for the USO Tour. Aubrey opened and closed her mouth, trying to say… something. All she could do was stand and stare at the love of her life, everything else around her just melting away.
“How… Stace… I-I-” Aubrey stammered, still not quite able to believe that she was standing in front of her. With that, Stacie couldn’t wait any longer. She ran to Aubrey, scooping her in arms into the tightest hug she could manage as the blonde’s crutches clattered to the floor, spinning with the force of the hug as Aubrey sobbed softly into her shoulder. The Bella’s watched with tears in their eyes and huge grins on their faces.
“Was she just waiting here when you guys came in?” Chloe whispered in Beca’s ear, arm around her waist.
“I may have texted Stacie from the plane… private jets are great because you can get WiFi. I know how much she’s been doing for us, for YOU, and I wanted to do something nice… so I told her when we’d be landing so she could bring Bella and surprise her…” Beca mumbled back, leaning back into her girlfriend, resting her head in the nape of her neck.
“You are a big softie Beca Mitchell…” Chloe grinned, kissing her head.
“Shut up… you’ll ruin my street cred!” Beca pouted as the redhead giggled softly, watching her best friend enjoy her first moment of pure bliss since she’d… well since she’d accidentally missed the birth of her daughter.
The hug broke apart, their foreheads resting against each other, both of them crying. The pain in Aubrey’s leg started to burn like a fire, and she could feel it starting to buckle. Stacie noticed too, quickly adjusting herself to support her wife, “Shit, sorry! I got caught up in the moment… I totally forgot…”
“It’s okay.” Aubrey laughed despite the pain, “Totally worth it.”
“Do you wanna meet your daughter?” Stacey asked, a wide grin on her face.
“She’s here? You brought her?” Aubrey gasped as Stacie simply nodded, the blonde’s eyes wide as Stacie’s mom rolled a stroller into view. The blonde covered her mouth in shock, Stacie helping her limp towards the stroller, tears spilling down her cheeks. They got to the stroller, Aubrey letting out a happy gasp as she clapped eyes on her daughter for the first time.
“Hey there beautiful…” She sobbed, a shaky hand stroking the side of Bella’s face, “She looks just like you!” She turned to Stacie, a wide grin on her face.
“You wanna hold her? She is your daughter after all...” Stacie smiled softly and warmly.
“I do but- I’m so shaky on my feet… what if I hurt her? She’s so little…”
“You won’t, I’ve got you…” Stacey kissed her temple, supporting her as Aubrey carefully leant forward and picked Bella up, holding her as if it was the most natural thing in the world, a role that she was born to play.
“Oh… you’re perfect…” she sighed, “I’m so sorry it took me so long to meet you. I got here as soon as I could…”
“One day we’ll tell you the G-rated version of the first two weeks of your life.” Stacie giggled, arms wrapped tightly around her waist to steady her wife. They stood in quiet bliss for a moment, basking in the beauty and innocence of their daughter. That was until a pointed cough came from the direction of the other Bellas.
“Not to break up the marital bliss guys, but there’s like nine aunties here that are dying to meet their niece?” Beca interrupted, a cheeky grin on her face.
“Come on then…” Stacie rolled her eyes, beckoning them over.
“Auntie Chloe calls dibs on the first cuddle!” Chloe called, the Bellas rushing forward to coo over the newest member of the family. Aubrey carefully passed her daughter to Chloe who had gotten to them first, Stacie gently guiding her to a nearby bench to sit down. They laughed as they watched their friends fawn over their daughter.
“They are gonna spoil her rotten aren’t they?” Aubrey sniffed, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve, resting her head on Stacie’s shoulder.
“Oh yeah, she’ll be a nightmare once she gets to her teen years!” Stacie laughed.
“Ah, we’ll just send her to live with them, they can deal with her teenage angst, see how they like it…” Aubrey grumbled.
“You scared me you know…” Stacie mumbled.
“I am so sorry… I had no idea it would happen…” Aubrey didn’t have the words to express how sorry she was. She wasn’t even sure the words existed. “I should never have gone…”
“I should have been here with you, should have been here for the birth of our daughter. I wouldn’t be…”
“Hey. Listen to me.” Stacie gently lifted Aubrey’s chin up with her finger so that their eyes met, “It isn’t your fault. Bella was three weeks early. Amy’s dad was… unexpected to say the least. The Bellas needed their captain. You are the most selfless, beautiful, kindest person I have ever met. You had to stay and help them when they needed you most. It’s one of the many reasons I love you Aubrey Posen. Just, y’know, stop pissing people off… especially when they have a gun, I mean common sense babe!”
Aubrey sniggered, sniffling, “Yeah… won’t be doing that again. Hurts like a bitch …”
The Bellas made their way over to the couple, still smiling and cooing at her. Stacie’s mom joined them as well, bringing Aubrey’s crutches over to her.
“Thanks Judith.” Aubrey smiled, taking them from her.
“No problem dear. It’s good to see you back, in relatively one piece.” Mrs Conrad laughed lightly. “I’m afraid I have to jet off, Harry needs the car back by 4. Will you two be okay getting home on your own?”
“We’ll be fine mom, don’t worry. Say hi to dad for us!”
Mrs Conrad bid the group farewell, leaving them to adore baby Bella once more.
“Okay, I have one question, what is that thing?” Stacie pointed to the giant bear that Emily was holding, Beca’s arms currently (albeit a little reluctantly) preoccupied with holding Bella.
“It’s Beca’s welcome home present!” Emily grinned excitedly.
“I see… and is Beca… pleased?” Stacie asked, an eyebrow raised in mischief.
“Um, minor problem…” Beca pulled a disgusted face as she held Bella at arms length, “Little one has dropped the biggest sh… ugar lump. Y’know. Like the bear?”
Stacie sighed softly, getting up and taking her daughter from Beca who looked a little green. She kissed Aubrey’s head, before taking the changing bag from the stroller and taking Bella to the bathroom to change her.
“How did she know when we were coming in?” Aubrey asked, looking round at her friends.
“Beca texted her using the WiFi on the plane.” Chloe gushed, laughing at the look of mock outrage on the brunette’s face.
“Chloe!” Beca whined, pouting and stamping her foot.
“Thank you Beca… I needed this.” Aubrey smiled, showing a rare moment of vulnerability. She eased herself to her feet, wrapping her arms around Beca, who groaned softly.
“See this is why I don’t do nice thingggs…” Beca complained.
“Come on guys, you know Beca loves a hug!” Chloe called, everyone piling in for a group hug as the brunette protested.
“Noooo… I got shot, I don’t deserve this!!” The brunette protested to deaf ears, “Okay… guys… crushing the surgery scar… seriously…”
The Bellas quickly pulled away, Beca wincing slightly as they apologised. The brunette grinned and brushed it off, knowing that they meant no harm. Stacie and Bella rejoined them, and the group was chatting and giggling like old times. One by one, the Bellas slowly left on their connecting flights back home (the army had paid for everything, including first class, clearly doing everything to avoid a lawsuit that the Bellas hadn’t even considered). There were teary goodbyes every time and promises of proper communication from now on. Eventually it was just the New Yorkers left, the five of them enjoying the quiet for a moment, watching people bustle through the airport. Eventually, Bella broke the silence, starting to fuss.
“Oh honey… someone needs to go home for a nap huh?” Stacie cooed.
“That makes two of us…” Aubrey mumbled sleepily, a soft smile on her face as she looked at her daughter.
“We should get home then, put the two of you to bed…” Stacie grinned, gently putting her daughter back into the stroller. She got up, Aubrey easing herself onto her crutches as Amy, Chloe, and Beca got up as well, taking it in turns to wrap Aubrey in a tight hug. Chloe was the last to give her a tight hug, Aubrey hugging her the tightest of all.
“Anything you need, anytime of day or night, you call me. I have an infant daughter, chances are I’ll be awake!” Aubrey whispered to her, laughing softly, “Promise me?”
“I promise…” Chloe lied, feeling guilty. She knew Aubrey only wanted what was best for her, only wanted to look out for her, but there was no way Chloe was going to take focus from her daughter. She’d already missed so much in the last two weeks, and the redhead couldn’t help but feel guilty about it.
Aubrey pulled away, the girls all walking together out of the airport, back into New York. Back home. Stacey and Aubrey got into one cab with their daughter, but not before Chloe had one last cuddle with her niece as they put the stroller in the boot. Then Amy flagged down another, the three of them clambering into the back, Chloe giving the driver the address before they rode quietly back to their apartment, Beca’s head resting on her girlfriend’s shoulder. Home at last.
Beca took a deep breath, her stomach fluttering. ‘C’mon Mitchell, this is ridiculous. You’ve had dinner with Chloe a MILLION times!’ She straightened her shirt again, checking her teeth for the millionth teeth for any potential stray food. ‘Dude! It’s all good. You’re fine. Will you just breathe for god’s sake!’ A knock on the door made her jump.
“Beca are you okay?” Chloe’s voice came from the other side of the door, sounding a little concerned.
“Uh, yeah! I’m good, just give me a sec okay?” Beca called.
“I love you… I’ll still love you after dinner as well, no matter what.”
Beca grinned, softly biting her lip, “Thanks Chlo… I love you too.” She sighed softly, quickly downing the last of her vodka tonic, before taking a deep breath and opening the door, her eyes meeting her girlfriends who smiled softly.
“You look beautiful.” Chloe said, her eyes running up and down her girlfriend.
“Yeah? Not too casual?” Beca asked, tugging at her shirt again.
“For that little cafe downtown? I think a shirt and jeans are a little smart...” The redhead raised her eyebrow mischievously.
“I know… I’m sorry, it’s the nicest place I can afford if we still want to live here next month, I wanted to take you somewhere so much nicer and-”
“Beca!” Chloe interrupted her, “I was teasing. I love it there. Besides, I’d eat out of a dumpster if it meant I got to spend time with you.”
Beca laughed, leaning in and giving her a kiss. The last few weeks had been very difficult for all of them, Beca relentlessly looking for a job to no avail, Chloe throwing herself into vet school to avoid anything and everything, Amy simply keeping to herself. Beca and Chloe had been subconsciously pulling away from her ever since the Cayman Islands. They loved her, but given everything that had happened, it was so hard to carry on like everything was normal. Chloe was especially finding it hard, not even really looking at Amy since it had happened. And then there was Chloe’s night terrors. Sharing a bed with Chloe was never the easiest thing to begin with (she was a duvet hog), but the things that Chloe saw when she closed her eyes were far worse than Beca waking up chilly. The cold sweats, the calling out in her sleep, the crying, the lashing out; all of it broke Beca’s heart as she tried to wake her girlfriend up, which rarely worked, so instead she settled for stroking her hair and shushing her quietly. Perhaps the worst thing about it though (and Beca felt horrible and guilty for even thinking it) was that Chloe would never tell her what was going on. Anytime Beca would try and find out what was going on, the redhead would just mumble “Boat stuff.” and then quickly change the subject. They’d barely seen each other as it was, with Chloe at vet school most of the time, and so, nearly a month after their return home, Chloe and Beca were finally going on a real, honest-to-god, hand holding and everything, date.
“Shall we?” Beca asked, opening the door for Chloe and gesturing dramatically through the doorway. The redhead simply laughed in response, kissing Beca again before heading out of the door. The brunette followed close behind, intertwining her fingers with her girlfriends, the two happily making their way to the subway.
“This is so cute!” Chloe squealed, looking around the cafe as Beca found them a quiet table.
“Yeah? I saw the fairy lights and the mason jars, and for some reason it made me think of you…” The brunette gave her a crafty smile.
“Hey, you know that I had the cutest room in the Barden house!” Chloe scoffed, pretending to be offended.
“Babe, it looked like a pixie vomited all over it.” Beca laughed, shaking her head softly, “But it was kinda cute I suppose…”
Chloe rolled her eyes, looking at the sandwich menu for something to eat, “A lunchtime date was a great idea Becs, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I know you’ve been so busy with vet school, and I didn’t want you to be worrying about what time we got home because of an early class so…” The brunette smiled, gazing lovingly at her girlfriend.
“You are so sweet…” Chloe took her hand in hers, smiling softly and fondly, “I can’t believe we’re finally here Beca…”
“Me neither. Never in a million years did I think you’d feel the same way…” Beca sniffed, holding back her tears as she squeezed her hand.
“Oh don’t, you’ll start me crying.” Chloe laughed softly, “C’mon, this is just any other meal we’ve eaten together, except this time I’m not pondering the what-ifs.”
Beca nodded, kissing her hand as she went to the counter to order them drinks and their food. She came back with two hot chocolates, whipped cream and marshmallows included, setting one down in front of her girlfriend, sitting down with the other for herself.
“Yum! My favourite!” Chloe grinned, using her finger to scoop a blob of whipped cream up. She looked over at the brunette who had taken a large sip and now whipped cream on her nose. The redhead giggled helplessly as Beca looked bewildered.
“What? What’re you laughing at?” Beca asked, utterly oblivious. Chloe leant forward, gently wiping the whipped cream from her nose as the brunette blushed furiously, “Oh for god’s sake… nice one Becs...” she mumbled.
“You’re so adorable.” Chloe grinned, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
Beca rolled her eyes, a moment of quiet bliss passing between them, all worries and pain gone for a minute as they enjoyed the happiness they felt. A smile tugged at Beca’s lips as she watched Chloe use one of her tiny marshmallows as a spoon for her whipped cream.
“Do you remember the night we won our third ICCA final in a row?” Beca asked, sipping her drink.
“Of course! That arrangement was incredible! Why?” Chloe asked, head tilting to one side in curiosity.
“I think it was the night that I finally admitted to myself how I felt about you. You were standing at the other end of the stage, your cheeks flushed, the biggest grin on your face… and it took my breath away. You were so beautiful, and so genuinely happy, and I remember thinking ‘fuckkkk I love this girl…’ ” Beca wasn’t looking at Chloe anymore, awkwardly fiddling with her sleeve, feeling weird about being so emotional and vulnerable, even with Chloe. The redhead blinked back tears, a warm smile on her face.
“Becs… I don’t know what to say…” She took Beca’s hand again, the brunette looking up from the table, “You are perhaps the most incredible person I have ever met, and I am so lucky to have you in my life in any capacity, nevermind as a loving girlfriend.”
Beca simply smiled in response, barely registering it as the server brought their food over and set it down, both women utterly captivated by each other. They talked, they ate, they laughed, enjoying a moment of pure happiness, for the first time in what felt like forever doing something that just felt completely normal. Neither of them commented on that, just enjoying the bubble they found themselves in.
It was now September, fall was beginning to settle in in the city, the weather not being the only cold thing in the small studio apartment. Weeks had passed, Chloe fully immersed in vet school, Beca finally finding another job with a different record company (sure it was a demotion from her previous job, but it was a steady income, and she could work her way up again), Amy working quietly on her one woman show, staying out of the studio apartment as much as possible. It was difficult to pretend that there wasn’t a sad air to the apartment, that they weren’t still carrying all the trauma of the events from two months ago. Except for date night once a week, the girls barely saw each other, making themselves busy to avoid talking, sleeping, anything that meant they had to acknowledge happened. Beca had been feeling guilty; she knew that she’d been neglecting her friendship with Amy, all but ignoring the blonde despite the fact the only thing that separated them was Amy’s clothes rail. She wanted to do something about it, but she couldn’t help it; everytime she looked at her friend her mind flashed back to the Cayman Islands, the cruel smile, the fear, the pain. It was too much, it wasn’t Amy’s fault, but it was too much. Chloe on the other hand hadn’t noticed the growing coldness between herself and Amy, too busy running from the memories in her head to register the divide between her and her friend.
It had been a particularly long week, Beca feeling more like an intern again then a producer, leaving her frustrated and exhausted. She entered the apartment, noticing that she was the only one home again. She dropped her bag at the door, kicking off her shoes and collapsing onto the bed, letting out a frustrated moan. A knock sounded at the door and Beca groaned loudly again, dragging herself to the door. Opening the door, she grinned widely as she saw who was there.
“Y’know your apartment walls are really thin right? I could hear you groaning…” Aubrey’s eyebrow was cocked in amusement, grinning as she held Bella in her arms.
“Bree! What’re you doing here?” Beca gestured to invite her in, moving a pile of Chloe’s veterinary textbooks off one of the chairs and switching the coffee machine on.
“I figured I’d drop in and see how domestic bliss was suiting you guys, bring Bella to hang out with her favourite aunties…” Aubrey sat on the now cleared chair, bouncing her daughter gently on her knee.
“So Stacie needed a break huh?” Beca laughed, setting a cup down in front of her friend.
“Yeah… mommy was getting crabby wasn’t she?” Aubrey cooed at her daughter, shaking her head at her.
“Well, Auntie Chloe will be home soon from school, and I know she’ll be more than happy to see you!” Beca gently stroked the top of Bella’s head, smiling softly,
“You’re looking better, leg healing okay?”
“It's great thanks! Back to normal mobility, a little achy on occasion, but way better than it was. How’re you doing with your war wounds?” The blonde smiled, her daughter playing with her hair.
“All good, I can lift heavy stuff again without splitting in half, so I spent the week sorting the record room…” Beca grumbled, sitting down with a sigh, running a hand through her hair.
“I may as well be an intern again, it’s ridiculous…” Beca sipped her coffee, rolling her eyes. The apartment door opened again as Chloe arrived home, also just dumping her bag at the door with a heavy sigh, not yet noticing her best friend sat at her table.
“Can I smell coffee? I could do with one after the day I’ve had… maybe an Irish one…” The redhead muttered, turning to face the coffee table, “Bree?! And Bella! Come give Aunty Chloe a cuddle!” Chloe gushed, scooping her niece into her arms, all the days woes forgotten.
“Told you Chloe would be all over her…” Beca grinned, watching her girlfriend fondly. Aubrey simply shook her head in response, watching as Chloe played ‘Got Your Nose’ with Bella, much to the baby's amusement.
“How is she?” Aubrey asked, a sad smile gracing her lips as she turned back to Beca.
“It’s bad Bree… I’ve never seen her like this.” Beca’s tone was quiet as she watched Chloe fawn over the youngest member of the family, “I don’t know how to help her… she won’t tell me what’s going on. It’s more than just the boat Aubrey, there’s something else there, something worse…”
“You can’t make her talk about it Beca…” Aubrey could see the pain in her friend’s eyes, and knew that she could help her understand it. But it wasn’t her story to tell.
“Hey Bella had a great idea!” Chloe interrupted, oblivious to the conversation that they’d been having about her.
“She did? The non-speaking infant had an idea?” Beca asked, a sarcastic look on her face.
“Yeah! She suggested we all get ice-cream!” Chloe stuck her tongue out at Beca, as Aubrey agreed with her, her girlfriend rolling her eyes in response.
“Alright fine. But only because Bella wants to…”
Several hours later, Beca and Chloe returned to their apartment, ice-cream craving satisfied, sleepy smiles on their faces. Seeing Bella and Aubrey had been just what they needed to relieve the stress of a long week. Beca wasn’t even a fan of babies (or children for that matter), but something about her niece soothed her. Maybe it was the effect she had on Chloe, the brunette forgetting for a moment that this was the same woman that would wake up in cold sweats at 2 am, crying out something indiscernible. Beca stopped as they got to the door, taking her hand in hers.
“I love you Chloe Beale. Like, so much. I just need you to know that.” Chloe’s gaze softened as she looked at her girlfriend, leaning in for a deep kiss.
“I love you more Beca Mitchell. You’re my whole world.” She mumbled as their lips brushed together, her whole body humming with desire, quickly deepening the kiss as their bodies pressed together, determined to get as close to each other as was humanly possible.
Eventually they broke apart, breathing heavily, ridiculous smiles on their faces. Beca’s arms draped comfortably around her girlfriend’s waist. She bit her lip, looking up at her girlfriend, losing herself for a moment in the icy blue eyes that she loved so much. “We’d better go inside… before Mrs Williams comes out and glares at us again.”
Chloe giggled, nodding and unlocking the front door. They walked in, and immediately noticed something was off. “Shit… have we been robbed?!” The redhead could feel her heart pounding in her chest, anxiety building up inside her.
“I don’t know… wait, it’s just Amy’s stuff that’s missing.” Beca realised, looking around.
“What? Why would someone just steal Amy’s stuff?” Chloe was confused, watching as Beca walked to the table and picked something up, “What is that?”
“It’s for us… it’s a letter…”
Dear Beca and Chloe,
First off, I love you guys. You’re my best friends, my family, and this changes none of that. I don’t know where you guys are right now, but it makes this easier. I’m moving out. Things have changed since the whole kidnapping/crazy dad/shooting thing, and it’s not your fault. Either of you, but you can’t deny it. I want things to go back to the way they were, and I feel like the only way to do that is to put some space between us, give us time to heal. I mean, I’m $180 million richer than I was a few months ago, may as well do something with it!
Look after each other, enjoy the space you have to yourselves, and for the love of GOD please clean out the coffee machine sometime, that thing is gross.
Love, Fat Amy
P.S. $180 mill is a lot to spend on yourself, so I paid your rent for the next 12 months. Try not to trash the place.
“Oh my god… she moved out?” Chloe sank into the chair at the table, running a hand through her hair, in shock.
“We’ve been so awful to her haven’t we?” Beca mumbled, letting the note fall from her hand.
“No, we were!” Tears welled at the corner of the brunette’s eyes, “We’ve just been ignoring her, and leaving her out of things. She must think we blame her, god DAMMIT!” Beca had begun pacing, a coffee mug gripped tight in her hand, throwing it at the wall as she exclaimed loudly. Chloe flinched, eyes wide with shock.
“Beca! What the hell!”
“Sorry… sorry…” Beca grabbed the whiskey bottle from the side as she sunk to the floor, hot tears slipping down her face, “I just… I just don’t want this to rule our lives anymore… I’m so sick of this…”
Chloe got up from her chair as Beca took a large swig, joining her girlfriend on the floor. The brunette leant her head on her girlfriend's shoulder, offering her the bottle. The redhead took it from her, taking a large swing herself and putting her around Beca.
“We’ll get there baby. It just takes time.”
“What about Amy?” Beca sniffed, taking the bottle back again.
“We’ll call her tomorrow, stay in touch, it’ll be fine. I promise.” Chloe kissed her forehead.
“Promise you’ll never leave me…” Beca mumbled, snuggling into the side of her neck.
“I promise. I will always be here for you. Forever and always my love…”