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Forever and Always My Love

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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.

“Rough week?”

“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. 

Bhloe forever!

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…”

Chapter Text

"It's unsettling isn't it..." Chloe and Beca stared at the giant bear in the corner, arms crossed across their chests, a coffee grasped in their hands, "It's those dead eyes... I feel like they're looking right through me.." Beca shivered, grimacing.

"Would you rather it had human eyes? Surely that is wayyy worse..." Chloe pulled a terrified face at the thought, Beca paused for a moment, and then nodded in agreement.

"You're right, that is far scarier... that's gonna give me nightmares..." Beca shuddered as the redhead laughed, both of them turning away from the bear. It had been two weeks since Amy had moved out, and it had been hard. They'd each exchanged a few texts with their Australian friend, but the apartment felt so much bigger without her in it. So, they'd redecorated the studio, changed the furniture around, as if making the apartment theirs was going to fill the void.

The sofa bed that they'd shared for years was now just a sofa, scattered with decorative pillows (that Beca had protested about, but she couldn't say no to her girlfriend when she looked at her with big puppy dog eyes), the clothes rail now on the far wall, and of course the giant teddy bear sat in the corner next to the sofa.

"Maybe if we turn it round so it faces the wall?" Chloe suggested, taking a large sip from her mug.

"No... what if we came home and it was facing the other way? We'd have to move..." Beca frowned, flopping down on the sofa. Chloe sat next to her, enjoying a rare morning off with her girlfriend. As she sat quietly she caught a whiff of the brunette's coffee cup, "It's a bit early for an Irish coffee isn't it?"

"You know what, after the week I've had, I think I've earned a little day drinking..." Beca joked, sipping her drink.

"They still treating you like an intern then?" Chloe asked, sliding an arm around her shoulders.

"It's so frustrating! I'm a four time collegiate a-cappella champion, I had a successful internship in one of the most exclusive programmes in the States, I produced a Christmas record for Snoop Dogg, as well a 2 successful albums at my old job before I quit. I know what I'm doing, I'm good at what I do, and they won't even hear me out!" The brunette sighed, Chloe's brow furrowing in concern.

"I'm sorry baby, I wish I could fix it for you..." The redhead gently kissed her temple, wishing that she could simply wave a magic wand and make these idiots see Beca's talent.

"Enough about my shitty job, how's vet school?" Beca asked, adjusting herself so that she was facing her girlfriend, resting a hand softly on Chloe's leg.

"Oh you know... it's okay. Top of my class, but I spend wayyy too much time with my hand up large farm animals asses for inner city New York..." Chloe grimaced as Beca laughed, pulling a face.

"That is so gross... but I'm so proud of you, doing what you want, top of your class... not that I'm surprised. You were always the smartest of us."

"Um, Stacie's a qualified nuclear engineer... she's way smarter than me!" Beca paused, nodding slightly as Chloe made a valid point.

"Okay... second smartest?" Beca tried.

"Ashley knows like six languages-" The redhead twitched her eyebrow as she grinned, clearly tormenting her girlfriend and enjoying every minute of it.

"Dude! I'm trying to give you a compliment!" The brunette half laughed, giving the redhead a playful shove, "You are such a dick sometimes..."

Chloe giggled helplessly at the look of outrage on Beca's face, yelping as the brunette leapt on her and started tickling her ribs, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

"Nooo Beca! STOPPP!" Chloe giggled, trying to smack her girlfriend's hands away as the brunette straddled her, all but pinning her to the sofa, "Becaaaaaa!"

"Say you're sorry!" Beca grinned, "Let me compliment you!"

"Never!" Chloe yelled between helpless laughter, trying to wrestle the petite brunette off her, "How is someone so small so strong?!"

"Oh, now you've done it!" Beca's eyes glinted, digging her fingers as she tickled her harder, Chloe laughing so hard she couldn't breathe.

"Okay! Okay!" She gasped between laughs, tears streaming down her face, Beca paused her head titled to one side, "I'm sorry, I should have let you be nice. I mean, it happens so rarely..."

Beca went to resume her tickling but this time the redhead was ready for her, grabbing her wrists and flipping her over, the two tumbling to the floor, breathing heavily, wide grins on both their faces, noses mere centimetres from each other. Beca could feel her heart start to pound, the redhead's breath hot on her face as her eyes glittered. Beca closed the gap between them, this kiss hotter and deeper than it had been earlier. This kiss was different, more desperate and raw than soft and sweet; Beca knew in that moment what she wanted, what had been unspoken, as she slid her tongue across Chloe's lips, the redhead allowing her to deepen the kiss as she moaned softly, the brunette unable to suppress a grin at the sound. Beca's left hand find it's way into Chloe's hair, the other slipping underneath her t-shirt, her thumb teasing her right nipple through her laced bar. Chloe could feel her heart pounding in her ears, but not in the way she wanted it to, she could feel her chest tightening, her mouth going dry. 'I can't do this...' The redhead abruptly pulled away, stumbling as she stood up, her eyes darting around the apartment. Beca lay there bewildered, not understanding what had happened.

"Chlo? What is it? Are you okay?" Beca sat up, her face filled with concern as Chloe's breath came in little gasps.

"Yeah- I just- I said I'd help with her notes..." Chloe lied weakly, grabbing her jacket and bag from a small hook by the door and rushing out, the door slamming shut behind her. The brunette simply sat there, not sure what to do. Should she follow Chloe? Should she give her space? Given her behaviour since they had gotten back from the Cayman Islands, her recent actions shouldn't exactly have been a complete surprise, but that didn't mean Beca wasn't a little hurt.

"Why won't you let me help you?" She whispered, grabbing her whiskey laced coffee from the table where she'd left it and taking a large mouthful. She rested her head on the edge of the sofa, staring at the ceiling, resenting the feeling of helplessness that threatened to consume her.

Chloe made it as far as the elevator, pushing the button for the ground floor before she slid down the wall, her head pounding, scarcely able to breathe. She wanted to explain it to Beca, to reassure her that what had happened wasn't her fault. She didn't even really know what had happened, just that it had felt like there was a five tonne weight on her chest. But how could she tell Beca that? Tell her why it had happened? She'd run a mile... and who could blame her? The elevator pinged, and Chloe slowly eased herself up the wall as the doors slid open, half staggering out of the apartment block. Where was she going? She didn't know, just knew that she had to leave.

'Easy Chloe, easy...' Hands shaking, she lent against her building, rummaging through her bag. She grasped the cigarette packet tight, pulling one out and shakily lighting it before taking a long, hard drag. Beca hated smoking (despite the fact that she was known for having more than a couple after a party when they were in college), so the redhead smoked rarely, and out of sight of her girlfriend. But right now, she needed it whilst she figured out where she was going. She couldn't go back upstairs, not yet. So where? Maybe she could just stay here, smoke, just ride it out. No, too public, too many people. A cafe? Same issue... Her phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. 'What? Why now?' She thought as she looked at the caller id. Taking a deep breath, she answered the phone, a falsely happy tone to her voice.


"Chloe?! Oh my god! Are you okay?" Came the female voice from the other end of the phone. The one she only heard on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and her birthday.

"Of course I am mom, why'd you ask?" Chloe replied, wondering why on earth she was calling now.

"I saw you on the news! I heard about the Cayman Islands, the shooting! Why didn't you call me?" Her mother's voice was shrill and panicked, as Chloe rolled her eyes, taking another drag from her cigarette.

"I'm fine mom, it wasn't a big deal-"

"Not a big deal?! People got shot, I read that someone nearly died!"

"That was Beca, she's okay, we all get out fine. It really isn't a big thing mom..." Chloe was trying to end this conversation quickly.

"I was so worried Chloe! You should have called me!"

"I'm sorry. You're right. You shouldn't have had to find out like that."

"Scared me half to death! But as long as you're okay..."

"I am. I promise."

"You're coming for Christmas. I won't hear any arguments or excuses this year!"


"No Chloe. I haven't seen you in nearly three years, you've graduated college, got accepted to vet school... we miss you."

Chloe sighed heavily. She didn't need this right now, and she certainly didn't need to go to Portland at Christmas to see... any of them.

"How about you bring that blonde friend of yours? The tall one that you used to sing with?"

"Aubrey's got a new baby mom, she'll want to spend Christmas here with her family."

"Well what about that other one, the tiny one who always looks too skinny? She looks like she could do with feeding up in those photos you sent me."

Chloe paused. She supposed if she had to go home for Christmas she could do with the moral support from Beca.

"You still there Chloe?"

"Yeah. I'll ask Beca, see if she's free at Christmas."

"That's great! I can't wait to see you!"

"You too mom. I've got to go, I have class."

"Alright darling, I'll see you soon. Let me know the details yeah?"

"Of course. Bye mom." Chloe hung up, sighing as she leant back against the wall, finishing her cigarette. She needed to get out of here for a bit, clear her head, and she knew just where to go.

A knock sounded at the door as Stacie put her daughter down for a nap, sighing softly. All she wanted to do was put her feet up, have a coffee, and read a book. Aubrey was at work, the two of them alternating weekdays and having weekends off to look after Bella. It was exhausting, but with Bella sleeping through most nights, the two had happily settled into a routine. Stacie walked to the door and opened it, a surprised smile on her face when she saw Chloe.

"Hey girl! How're you?"

"Hey Stace. I'm good, a little tired. But look who I'm talking too." Chloe smiled sheepishly.

"Do you wanna come in? Bree's at work and Bella's asleep, so I can make you a coffee we can have an actual adult conversation?" Chloe laughed lightly, nodding. She'd hoped Aubrey would be home, but she loved Stacie just the same, even if she couldn't talk about what was going on. She entered the well decorated, homely apartment, Stacie going over to the machine and turning it on, prepping two cups.

"Two sugars and milk yeah?"

"Please. How is my favourite niece?" Chloe settled on her friends sofa, a warm smile on her face.

"She's great! Sleeps through the night, mostly anyway, and she smiles now, you should have seen the way she was smiling at Bree yesterday..." Stacie sat down next to her friend, handing a cup which Chloe accepted gratefully, "So, what did you need Aubrey for?" Her eyebrow cocked mischievously as she grinned behind her mug.

"I-I-" Chloe stammered, a blush spreading across her cheeks. Stacie knew her all too well, "My mom rang, insisted that I came for Christmas."

"Oh? Are you not close?" Stacey asked, frowning slightly. In the six years she'd known Chloe, she'd never heard her mention her mother.

"Not really. Kinda went to Barden to get away from her. She's a little... much." Chloe was trying to be tactful.

"So why are you going then?"

"She found out about the Cayman Islands thing from the news, and I felt bad about it... and she said I could bring Beca."

Stacey grinned, "Ooo meeting the folks are we? Big step!"

Chloe shook her head, grinning, "It's not that big a deal, and she doesn't know about me and Becs... it's complicated."

"I get that. I didn't tell my parents about Aubrey until we'd be dating nearly a year. It can be complicated, but there's no reason to rush it. You've gotta do this sort of thing at a pace you're comfortable with." Stacie smiled, "You look tired Chlo... are you sleeping?"

Chloe shrugged, "A little. Not well. School's stressful, great, but stressful. And Beca... she keeps tossing and turning, mumbling. She's always saying that she worries about how I sleep, I don't even think she knows that she isn't sleeping well either..."

"Does anyone ever tell you, you worry about other people way too much?" Stacey placed a hand on her arm, smiling at her friend, "It's sweet that you're so worried about Beca, but you need to look after yourself honey as well."

"I know..." Chloe's voice was barely above a whisper as her eyes focused on her lap, "I just... I don't want to think about the things in my head."

"I get that. It's easier to fix other people than it is yourself." Stacie empathised, "Wait here, one second..." The young mother set her cup down and got to her feet, heading to her room for a moment. Chloe sniffed slightly, holding back her tears. She was glad she came, even if she couldn't share all of what was bothering her.

"Ah! Found it!" Stacie re-entered the room, a grin on her face, a card in hand, "I've struggled most of my life with what's going on in my head, but since I started at Barden, I used this woman, she happened to move to New York when we did, quite convenient really." She passed her the card, smiling at her friend. "Call her Chloe. She's great."

"Yeah... maybe. Thanks." Chloe half smiled, taking the card from her, and slipping it in her pocket.

"You have to look after yourself too Chloe. Promise me." Stacie's eyes were full of concern, watching as the tears that Chloe had been holding back pour down her cheeks, "Oh honey. Come here." Stacie gently pulled Chloe into a hug as the redhead started to sob heavily, the emotions from the day spilling out as her friend held her tighter. Stacie let her friend cry herself out, sensing that it was probably long overdue. It was at least ten minutes before Chloe's crying ceased, her breathing deepening as Stacie realised she'd fallen asleep, Smiling softly, she gently eased herself from underneath the sleeping redhead, using the scatter cushions on the couch to support her head and fetching a blanket to put over her, deciding to let her rest. Stacie noticed Chloe's phone was ringing, Beca's name on the caller id. She took the phone and answered it.

"Chloe?" Beca's tone was stressed.

"Beca, it's Stacie."

"Wait, did I call you by mistake? I've had a lot of whiskey..." Beca's voice was a little slurred.

"No, you called Chloe. She's here, she fell asleep on the couch, it seems she's had a bit of a day..." Stacie quietly entered her bedroom and put the door to, so as not to wake Chloe.

"Is she okay? She ran out so fast..." Beca mumbled "I didn't mean to upset her, I wanted to run after her, but it was my fault and I thought I'd make it worse again..."

"What do you mean it's your fault? What happened?" Stacie sat on the end of her bed, her brow furrowed.

"We were fooling around, it just happened organically y'know, it wasn't anything significant, like second base? Anyway, Chloe kinda freaked out, I think it was a panic attack, she's had a few since, y'know the Cayman Island thing. She just ran out. I didn't mean to freak her out or push her too far, I'm so sorry that she's upset..."

"Beca, Beca, it's okay. She's alright. She didn't even mention it when she came in." Stacie desperately tried to reassure the rambling brunette.

"Oh... right... did she tell you what's going on with her? She won't tell me anything..." Stacie couldn't help but notice the tired desperation in Beca's voice.

"I'm sorry Beca, she was as vague as she normally is... she mentioned something about her mother ringing?"

"Her mom? She's never even mentioned her..." Beca mused, a sad sigh escaping her lips, "Why won't she let me in Stace, what am I doing wrong?"


"I love her so much, does she not trust me enough? Even after all these years, everything we've been through... I'm just gonna screw this up aren't I?"

"Alright Mitchell, listen here." Stacie's tone was kind but stern, "This is the whiskey talking. You know that Chloe loves you, you're her whole world, it's been that way since the beginning. They'll be none of this self-pity shit you hear me? I don't know what it is that's bothering Chloe, but there is definitely something more to all of this. You have to be patient with her Beca, you can't make her talk about this if she's not ready to."

Beca sniffed, "Your wife said the same thing... guess I should start listening to you both then..." There was a hit of Beca's normal sarcastic tone in her words, reassuring Stacie that her words had gotten through to her.

"You're damn right you should! I'm gonna let Chloe sleep here for a bit, it seems like she needs the rest. You sober yourself up, when I send Chloe home I don't want you to be a snivelling drunken wreck okay?" Stacie half joked, a soft smile on her face.

"Yeah that's fair... thanks Stacie."

"You're family girl, it's what we do."

"Tell Chloe I love her yeah?"

"Of course Becs, I'll let you know when she's on her way home, or if she's spending the night. I'm reluctant to wake her up when she's this exhausted."

"Yeah, of course. She needs her sleep. Thanks again Stace."

With that, Beca ended the call, Stacie sighing deeply and running a hand through her hair. 'What a mess...' She knew that the pair loved each other, but whatever had happened in the Cayman Islands had stirred up something long suppressed by the redhead, and the longer she pretended nothing was happening, the worse it would get. She heard the door click open, and quickly hurried into the living room to make sure the return of her wife didn't wake Chloe.

"Hey-" Aubrey started, quickly silenced by her wife as she gestured for her to follow her to the bedroom. The blonde quickly obliged, frowning slightly as she noticed the sleeping form of her best friend on her sofa. "What's going on?" She asked, the tone of her voice low as she quietly shut the bedroom door behind her.

"Honestly? I have no idea..." Stacie sighed, Aubrey sitting next to her on the bed and putting an arm around her shoulders, "Chloe just dropped by, I think she was looking for you, said her mother had called inviting her for Christmas, and she'd agreed."

"Really?" Aubrey was surprised. Given everything she knew, it seemed like the least likely option.

"Yeah, she felt bad because her mom had found about the Cayman Islands via the news, and she's gonna bring Beca as a 'friend'. Anyway, I told her that she be worrying less about other people and more about herself, and she started crying, so I let her cry herself out until she fell asleep. Figured I'd leave her because she looks exhausted. And then Beca tried to ring her, drunk out of her mind, and told me that Chloe had just took off after they'd started fooling around, no explanation nothing, and she didn't want to follow in case it made things worse..." Stacie shook her head, sighing, "I don't know what's going on with them Bree, either of them. It just seems like such a mess..."

Aubrey pulled her into a hug as Stacie put her head in her hands, utterly exhausted by the events of that afternoon. "I'm sorry honey, it sounds like you've had a tough day..."

Stacie laughed quietly, "Yeah... but it's nothing compared to what Chloe's going through is it? Or Beca. Do you know what's going on with Chloe? You've know her so much longer than the rest of us."

"I do... but I don't know if I can say Stacie..." Stacie sat up, a look of hurt on her face.

"I'm your wife Aubrey, we're not supposed to have secrets!"

"I know, I know. But it's not my secret to tell. Chloe, she-" Aubrey shook her head as she tried to say everything and nothing at the same time. Stacie took her hand in hers, smiling softly.

"I'm sorry. You don't have to tell me, you're right it's not for you to say." She kissed Aubrey's hand, "I think we've earned a pizza tonight, what do you reckon?" Aubrey laughed softly, resting her head on Stacie's shoulder.

"Sounds good to me. Double pepperoni?"

"And extra cheese?"

"Ooo yeah..."

It had been several weeks since the incident in their apartment, and apart from Beca being unnecessarily apologetic for a few days, they hadn't said a word about. The fall coloured leaves, earlier sunset, and return of Pumpkin Spice lattes could only mean one thing.

"Halloweeeeeeen!" Chloe grinned, waving her hands in an attempt to be 'spooky'. Beca sighed and rolled her eyes.

"God not that again... didn't we just do that?" Beca asked.

"No silly! Besides, now that we're a couple we get to do couple's costumes!" The redhead was beaming from ear to ear, clearly very excited about the idea.

"Really?" Beca moaned, "Are we not too old for that now?"

"No. And it's Aubrey and Stacie's party, so it'll be tasteful and low key. They're gonna put little Bella in a costume too, you know it'll be adorable!"


"Come on Becs, please?!" Chloe put on her best puppy dog eyes as she wound her arms around her short girlfriend who sighed heavily, a grin on her face as she rolled her eyes again.

"Fine... whatever you want. You know I can't say no to you, especially when you pull that face... and you know it!" Beca teased, smiling up at her girlfriend, "I take it you've already picked out the costumes then?"

"Maybeeeee..." Chloe's grin was mischievous, "But you'll have to wait and see." The redhead booped the end of Beca's nose as she unwound herself from Beca's embrace grabbing her bagpack and kissing her cheek, the brunette's face confused, "I have school, I'll see you later? Or are you working late?"

"I think I'm home at regular time, but god knows..." Beca sighed.

"Just keep me posted yeah?" Chloe gave her a soft kiss, smiling warmly as she headed out of the door. Beca sighed happily as the door shut. Sure, she hated Halloween but she could see how excited and happy Chloe was at the idea of them doing Halloween together, seeming like she'd forgotten whatever it was that was bothering her. Beca could sacrifice an evening of dress up, screaming kids, and cheesy decorations if it meant that Chloe was happy for a change, if it meant she had a project to focus on.

"Alright Becs, gotta get ready for work. Hopefully today will be less hellish..." She sighed, running her hands through her hair in lieu of a hairbrush and grabbing her reusable coffee cup off the side. It hadn't even registered with her that she'd put a shot of whiskey in it, nor that she'd packed extra chewing gum to hide the smell of alcohol on her breath. It was as much a part of her routine now as brushing her teeth or getting dressed, and she couldn't accept that it wasn't normal behaviour. It just made everything a little easier.

"You have got to be kidding me..." Beca stared at the costumes that Chloe had laid out on the bed for them, not quite able to fathom what had gone through her head when she'd bought them.

"Oh come on, it's an iconic queer couple from our childhood! And it fits! Tall, fashionable, redhead and her short, brainiac, brunette girlfriend. It's perfect..." Chloe beamed, digging her hair straightners out of the draw by their bed.

"Daphne and Velma? Really? And everybody knows you're the brains of this outfit babe! If I'm the brains then we're in serious trouble..." Beca was still staring at the outfits, fiddling with the sleeve of the orange turtleneck.

"It's gonna be great Beca, you'll see. Now, go jump in the shower and then I can sort your hair out so that we can put this wig on."

Beca had to admit that she liked it when Chloe took charge, but that didn't stop a frustrated moan from leaving her lips, "A wig?! Do I have to?"

"Yes. You do." Chloe used her staightners to point for emphasis, a faux stern look on her face. Beca bit her lip, a smirk on her face, an eyebrow raised.

"Are you gonna make me?"

Chloe paused, caught off guard, her heart starting to pound again. Beca realised that she'd done it again (although what 'it' was she wasn't sure) and quickly backpedaled, trying to play it off as if nothing weird had happened, "Alright, alright. I'll wear the wig... if I'm doing this I might as well do it properly. I do live to please after all."

Chloe scoffed lightly, smiling at Beca, and hoping she couldn't see the sheer panic that she was feeling. 'I'm sorry Beca...' she thought, 'You deserve better than this...' Beca planted a soft kiss on the redheads cheek before heading to the bathroom. Once the door was shut, she turned the shower on before sitting on the toilet, reaching behind the sink base to where she'd hidden an 'emergency' bottle of vodka. Again, Beca didn't (wouldn't?) acknowledge that this was symptomatic of a larger problem, or that there was never going to a bathroom emergency that involved vodka. Instead, she took a large swig, closing her eyes as it burnt her throat, a large sigh escaping her mouth. She couldn't seem to do anything right, she just kept hurting Chloe without even meaning to. Maybe Chloe was better off without her. Beca shook her head, taking another large swig as she pushed the thought to the back of her mind and got in the shower.

Beca emerged fifteen minutes later, feeling more confident as she walked over to where Chloe was straightening her hair, kissing her cheek.

"Good shower?" Chloe asked, smiling softly at her.

"Yeah, just what I needed." Beca mused, wrapping her hair in a towel, already in a clean set of underwear. Chloe couldn't help but run her eyes up and down her girlfriend's form, her heart beating a little faster. The brunette noticed, but said nothing, not wanting to make Chloe uncomfortable again. She started to pull on the Velma costume, leaving the wig and lense free glasses on the bed. Chloe finished straightening her hair as Beca adjusted the knee high orange socks, grimacing as she caught sight of herself in the mirror, "That is sooooo much orange..."

"You look adorable!" Chloe squealed, looking a vision in the purple dress, pink tights, and green scarf tied expertly around her neck just like it had been in the early days of the Barden Bellas.

"No. YOU look adorable. I look like a tangerine." Beca shook her head, rubbing her hair dry with the towel, as Chloe grabbed her hairbrush, smiling at the slightly wild and haggard look Beca now sported. She quickly brushed the knots out of the brunette's hair, quickly and deftly tying it up in a bun, like she'd done for the young woman before countless performances. Chloe then picked up the wig, positioning it and grinning as she tided the fringe.

"Beautiful..." She breathed, gently turning Beca around to face the mirror so she could see herself. Even Beca had to admit that Chloe had done a great job, even if she did look a little cheesy. "Alright, makeup, fake glasses and shoes, and then we're off. We can't be late, or we'll miss Bella!"

Beca grinned, quickly finishing up her outfit before the two left their apartment, hand in hand, contented smiles on their faces.

"You guys look amazing!" Aubrey cried as she opened the door to see her two friends.

"Thanks Bree! You look great yourself! Gabrielle right? So that would make Stacie..." Chloe raised an eyebrow, a grin plastered on her face.

"Xena, yeah!" She leant in close to the pair, clearly a little drunk already, "Between us, she's so hot I think my ovaries might explode..."

"Okayyy..." Beca laughed, not used to seeing Aubrey like this, "We're gonna come in now yeah?"

"Yes! Everyone's excited to see you guys! A few of the Bellas couldn't make it, but it's going to be a great night. My mom's gonna pick up Bella soon, so we can party without having to be quiet."

"That sounds like a great idea." Chloe grinned, as she and Beca slid into the apartment, quickly mingling with the guests.

"BECA! CHLOE!" The girls turned to see Ashley rushing over, pulling them both into a hug. After a moment, she pulled back taking in their costumes, "You guys look incredible! I always loved Scooby Doo!"

"Thanks Ash! Cute cat costume! I didn't think you'd make it..." Chloe grinned, Beca kissing her cheek as she went to get them both a drink.

"I managed to get a couple of days off in the end. Jess is stuck in Seattle though..." Ashley pulled a face, clearly disappointed.

"How's the long distance thing going?" Chloe asked, a sympathetic smile on her face.

"Hard. I miss her so much, and she's SO busy with her Intern year... but she's crushing it though, top of the class."

"Of course she is! And I'm sure she misses you too... are you seeing her for Thanksgiving?"

"Yeah, thankfully! Her folks are coming up to, so it'll be nice. How about you? You and Beca got Thanksgiving plans?"

"Yup, we're going to Atlanta to see her dad and step-mom-" Chloe started, interrupted by Beca who passed her a drink.

"Yeah... it'll be great! Mom's coming too... whole family back together again... it shouldn't be a shitfest at all..." Beca mumbled, rolling her eyes.

"It'll be fine Bec, it's sweet that they want to see you at the same time, despite the messy divorce!" Chloe grinned, taking a sip from her drink.

"Wait, why not see your mom at Christmas then?" Ashley asked.

"We're going to Portland at Christmas to see my family..." Chloe mumbled, taking a bigger swig. Beca quickly and subtly shook her head as she could see Ashley opening her mouth to ask more questions.

"That's... nice." Ashley ventured, as Chloe nodded hesitantly.

"Sure. It'll be fine." She sounded more like she was convincing herself than Ashley.

"Have you seen baby Bella yet?" Ashley quickly changed the subject, "Her costume might be cutest thing I've ever seen in my life, I took like 20 photos and sent them to Jess."

"No!" Chloe's eyes lit up with excitement, "Where is she?" Ashley pointed through the small crowd where Stacie stood in her Xena outfit, Bella shielded from sight by the cooing onlookers. The redhead grabbed Beca's arm and dragged her towards her niece, Beca clumsily waving goodbye to Ashley, an apologetic grin on her face. Chloe's breath caught on her throat as she finally saw her niece, in what was quite possibly the cutest outfit she had ever seen.

"Stacie! Where did you find her that outfit!" Chloe squealed. Bella was in a mini Barden Bellas uniform, the flight attendant style ones that they had worn years ago, complete with a Bellas scarf tied loosely around her neck.

"I made it! Had to do something whilst she was napping..." Stacie grinned, clearly very proud of both the outfit and her daughter. Even Beca couldn't help but coo at the baby, marvelling in Stacie's handiwork. Her sewing handiwork wasn't a surprise, she'd be in charge of many a costume alteration in the past, but this was something else.

"It looks amazing." Beca grinned.

"You guys looks amazing too! Here was I thinking that Bree and I had nailed the queer couple costume tonight, but you guys look even cooler!" Stacie laughed.

"Chloe's idea." Beca nodded towards her girlfriend who had taken Bella into her arms and was quietly singing 'I Saw the Sign' to her as she danced with her.

"Yeah I figured, you were never one for Halloween." Stacie raised an eyebrow, taking a sip from the drink she had set down earlier, "You guys doing any better?" She asked quietly, leaning in so their conversation couldn't be overheard.

"If by better you mean not talking about it, sure." Beca mumbled, sighing softly, "But I'm being patient, you're right, she'll talk when she's ready."

"Has she rung that shrink yet?" Stacie asked.

"I don't think so, if she has she didn't tell me." The brunette shook her head, taking a large mouthful of her drink, "It's nice though, this Halloween nonsense has really taken her mind off everything else."

"That's the holiday season for you, takes your mind off everything else!" Stacie grinned.

"Tell me about it, I've spent more time worrying about the fact that my parents are gonna be in the same room for Thanksgiving than I have about anything else..."

Stacie winced, "Ooo, that'll be... interesting."

"That's one word for it." Beca raised her eyebrow.

Chloe, Beca, and the rest of the guests soon immersed themselves in the party. Aubrey's mother had picked up Bella, and the party was in full swing, drinks flowing, the first glimpse of true normality that many of them had experienced in a long time. Some of them however took the return to normality a little too far. Chloe watched as Aubrey darted for the bathroom, hand over her mouth. She frowned; Aubrey was never one to drink that much, far too much of a control freak to let go like that. Stacie moved towards the bathroom, but Chloe put her hand on her arm.

"I'll go." She mumbled, giving Stacie a reassuring smile, "Sometimes you need to not see the woman you love when you're at your lowest point." Stacie gave her a soft smile.

"Alright, fair point." As Chloe weaved her way through the crowd to the bathroom, Stacie made her way over to Beca. She gently put a hand on her arm as Beca went to raise the cup to her mouth. "Alright kiddo, I think you're done." She whispered, Beca turning round with a look of surprise and irritation.

"I'm fine Stace..." She slurred, a little unsteady on her feet.

"Beca... for Chloe's sake, I think you need to slow down."

Beca peered at her over the top of her fake glasses, frowning, "You been counting my drinks?"

"Beca, please." Stacie's eyes pleaded with her silently, her voice firm.

"I'll finish this one. And then I'll go home." Beca promised, sensing Stacie probably had a point.

"Okay..." Stacie smiled softly.

Meanwhile, Chloe knocked softly on the bathroom door. "Bree? It's Chloe, I'm coming in." She pushed the door open, closing it behind her as she smiled at the blonde sat by the bathtub, her knees tucked into her chest. Chloe gently sat on the floor next to her, tucking her friends hair behind her ears.

"What's going on with you? This isn't like you Bree..."

Aubrey scoffed, resting her head on the edge of the bathtub, "What, can't I get wasted just once?" Her words slurred a little, trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes, a lump in her throat.

"Aubrey..." Chloe put a hand on her shoulder, a sad smile on her face. Aubrey let the tears spill down her face, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.

"Every time I close my eyes I'm back on that damn boat." She muttered, "Every time my leg throbs I see his fucking face. I just wanted one night, one fucking night where I could just let go of it all. Guess I overdid it huh?" She sniffed, letting her head rest on Chloe's shoulder.

"Oh honey. I know, I know." Chloe hugged her friend tightly as she cried, "Believe me I understand."

"Is it ever going to be over Chlo?" Aubrey asked, desperate for an end to all of the nightmares.

"Someday... it has to be..." She mumbled.

"You getting a weird sense of deja vu or is it just me?" Aubrey laughed, wiping her face with the loo roll.

"Ha! Just a little... wasn't that Halloween as well?" Chloe mused, her thoughts drifting back to their early college years.

"I think so... although I seem to remember that you were on something as well as the whiskey..." Chloe rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly as Aubrey raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah, well..."

"Hey, I'm not judging I promise. That night... you were allowed to do whatever you wanted after all that." Aubrey's smile was wide, but there were tears in her eyes, "I'm so empty Chloe... I feel nothing at all. I've been numb since that night, even when I look at my daughter, I just feel... nothing. I love her, I know I do, but there's just nothing there when I hold her... what's wrong with me?"

Chloe's features softened as she cupped Aubrey's face in her hands, "There is nothing wrong with you Bree, you hear me? You are an amazing mom, an amazing human being. This is what trauma does Bree. I think you're still in shock from it all, you were so busy looking after the Bellas, looking after me, and now looking after your daughter, that you've forgotten to deal with what you went through."

"So you don't think I'm broken?" It broke Chloe's heart to see her best friend so vulnerable. They'd been through so much together, and Aubrey had always been the strong one, so to see her drunk and sobbing on her bathroom floor was frankly a little terrifying.

"No. Not even a little. You're just repressing shit. BELIEVE me, I know all about that..." Chloe half laughed, "Talk to Stacie, you'll feel better."

"What if she hates me for it?" Chloe's breath caught in her throat for a second. It was like listening to herself.

"She won't. She loves you. She married you, on purpose. Let her help you Aubrey." Chloe couldn't believe the hypocrisy coming out of her mouth, but she knew that it was the right thing to do, "I'll do you a deal. You tell Stacie that you're struggling, explain what's going on, and before the year is over, I'll tell Beca everything."

Aubrey's eyes widened in shock, "Really? Everything?"

"Yeah. I love her Bree, but I can't let her in. There's this... wall, and I can't get past it because I'm afraid- afraid she'll run a mile if I tell her. But if I keep pushing her away, she's going to run anyway isn't she?" Chloe gave Aubrey a sad smile, "I guess I should follow my own advice..."

"God we're a right pair aren't we? Different degrees of drunk on a bathroom floor, and not for the first time in our lives..." Aubrey chuckled, linking hands with Chloe, "You're the closest thing I've ever had to a sister Beale, I don't know what I'd do without you."

"You are a soppy drunk Posen." Chloe giggled, "But you are my sister in all the ways that matter, and more. I love you, you weirdo."

Aubrey sighed happily, letting her head once again rest on Chloe's shoulder, "I love you too sis."

Hangovers were temporary, but the things said on Aubrey's bathroom floor weren't. A week later, Aubrey was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to a three course meal, candles lit, flowers on the table. Bella was staying with Stacie's parents, so the two women would have the whole night to themselves. She took a deep breath, pouring them both a glass of wine as Stacie entered the apartment.

"What's all this?" Stacie asked, a big grin on her face, that quickly turned into a look of sheer panic, "Wait, our anniversary is in March isn't it? I didn't forget did I?!"

"No, no!" Aubrey laughed, setting down the bottle of wine and walking over to her wife, planting a soft kiss on her lips, "I thought it would be nice to have a night just for us."

"But Bella-"

"Is with your parents. It really is just us tonight..." Stacie couldn't help but grin as Audrey gave her the news. She loved her daughter more than life itself, but it was nice to have one night without dirty diapers and two am feeds.

"Oh... well in that case..." Stacie wrapped her arms around her waist, kissing her deeply, grinning as Aubrey let out a soft moan. Reluctantly, Aubrey pulled away, squeezing her hands tightly.

"Later. I made dinner." Aubrey grinned as Stacie pouted. The brunette followed her wife to the table, sitting down as Aubrey plated up the starter. They ate in happy silence, Aubrey tracing her fingers up and down Stacie’s arm that was resting on the table. Aubrey was picking at her food as Stacie tucked into hers.

"You okay?" Stacie asked, frowning as she noticed that Aubrey wasn't eating.

"Yeah... You know how when you cook for hours and then when you actually sit down to eat you’re not hungry?” Aubrey asked.

“No… is that something people feel?” Stacie looked flabbergasted, “I just get more hungry!” 

Aubrey laughed lightly, watching her wife tuck hungrily into the food she’d made, realising that Stacie had skipped lunch again. She was always doing that, so wrapped up in her work that the lunch hour passed her by. She didn’t want to tell her this, it could ruin everything...

“I need to talk to you about something..." Aubrey didn't look from her plate, continuing to push her food around her plate.

"Uh oh, are you breaking up with me?" Stacie joked. There was a pause. "Wait, are you?!"

"No... no, of course not..." Aubrey reassured her.

"Aubrey... you're starting to scare me." Stacie put her fork down and lent forward, eyebrows furrowed in concern. She gently lifted Aubrey's chin with her hand, the blonde's eyes glittering with tears, "Sweetie, talk to me. Please..."

"I'm sorry... ever since- ever since I came back it's like this... void inside me. I just feel empty all the time, even when I'm with Bella, and I just... I think I'm broken..." Aubrey sobbed, not meeting Stacie's eye. Saying nothing, the brunette stood up, kneeling in front of her wife so that they were at eye-level.

"Bree. Look at me." Her voice was soft and kind, eyes full of love. Aubrey tore her eyes from the table, tears spilling down her cheeks, "You are NOT broken Aubrey Posen. You are the strongest, wisest, most beautiful woman I know, and I have never been more proud, and more in love with you than I am right now." Stacie was crying now too, a hand on Aubrey's cheek, wiping a tear away with her thumb, "I love you so damn much. This is perfectly normal, a response to the trauma. If you want, we can get you in to see someone, talk about it, whatever you need. You are an amazing mom, an amazing wife, and we are so lucky to have you."

Aubrey said nothing, simply falling into her wife's arms sobbing heavily as Stacie held her tight, stroking her hair and kissing her head. The force of Aubrey’s sobs shook both of them as Stacie held her as tight as she could manage, tears slipping down her face as she cradled her wife. It was obvious that Aubrey had been holding onto this for a long time, and that she had been preparing herself for a different response than Stacie had given her. Eventually, Aubrey's cries passed, and she sniffed hard, lifting her head from Stacie's shoulder. Stacie tucked a stray lock of hair behind Aubrey's ear, leaning and kissing her softly. The two sat in silence, Stacie deciding to let Aubrey break the silence. It was important not to rush her here, whatever she needed Stacie would give her. She loved Aubrey with all her heart, with all her soul, and she would do anything to protect her.

They sat on the floor for a good ten minutes, only moving when the oven timer went off. Aubrey looked up from her shoulder, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve.

“Dinner…” Aubrey frowned, mumbling softly, “We’re supposed to be having dinner…”

"Oh yeah... dinner." Stacie laughed, "What was it?"

"I don't remember... I don't think I even put it in..." Aubrey mused. Stacie shook her head, kissing her forehead again.

"Shall I just order us a curry?" She asked, Aubrey nodding, "I'll just grab the menu from the other room, hang on." Stacie got up off the floor, helping Aubrey to her feet. "You got put your onesie on, get yourself comfy okay?"

"Yeah... I love you Stacie. Thank you."

"I love you too. And you don't have to thank me, what're wives for?" Stacie kissed her again before Aubrey headed to the bedroom to change. As she got there, she sat on the edge of the bed and fired a quick text off to Chloe.

Okay you were right... she was amazing about it. I love her sm... your turn ;) x

She sighed happily, changing quickly as her phone buzzed with a reply.

Told you! Proud of you Bree :D I'm working on it, but B is stressed enough about Thanksgiving without me saying anything. Promise I will tho. Ly x

Divorced parents in the same room? Rather you than me... don't push yourself too hard Chlo, ly2 x

Aubrey smiled as she walked into the living room, Stacie grinning widely and passing her the takeout menu.

"Have a look and decide what you want. Whatever you want, my treat."

"God I love you… What did I ever do to deserve you in my life Stacie Conrad?" Aubrey smiled.

"The pleasure is all mine, Bree, believe me."

"Oh this is going to be bad... this is going to be so so bad..." Beca ran a hand through her hair as they sat waiting at the airport in Atlanta. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and Beca and Chloe had gone back to Atlanta to visit Beca's dad, Shelia, and her mom had decided to come too, all of them concerned about the young brunette, and eager to meet her girlfriend. Beca herself was freaking out, the thought of her bitterly divorced parents in the same room being the source of a week long panic attack, whilst Chloe did her best to reassure, mostly unsuccessfully.

"Beca it will be fine..." Chloe took her hand in hers, smiling warmly, "Try and go in with an open mind, yeah?"

Beca rolled her eyes, "Sure, because when my parents are in the same room it's all sunshine and rainbows." Chloe simply laughed, kissing her head.

"Look, we've only got to get through three days okay? And we're going home on the third, so really it's only two full days with your parents!" Chloe beamed.

"Always the optimist babe... I love you." Beca couldn't help but relax a little. Chloe was more and more like her old self these days, even her night terrors had lessened. It seemed things were on the mend.

A horn beeped as a car pulled up in front of them, a short brunette clambering out of the front seat. She was older than Beca, but it was still like looking in mirror, except with more scarves and baggier pants.

"BECS!" She exclaimed, throwing her arms around Beca, who grimaced.

"Hi mom..." Beca hugged her back, albeit a little reluctantly.

"Let me look at you..." She stood back to admire her daughter, a proud smile on her face, "Thank god you got my looks... although you really lent into the lesbian look didn't you?"

"Mom!" Beca grinned, rolling her eyes.

"What?! Oh... don't want me to embarrass you in front your girlfriend?" Her mother's grin was mischievous as her daughters as she winked at the redhead. Chloe grinned, extending her hand.

"I'm Chloe, it's really great to meet you Miss Adams." She introduced herself.

"Oh put that hand away, I'm a hugger!" Beca's mom wrapped her arms around Chloe who hugged her back tightly, "Ooo you give better hugs than Becs!" She pulled away, looking Chloe up and down, "And none of this Miss Adams nonsense, you can call me Ellie." Chloe just beamed, already enamoured with Beca's mom. It was easy to see which parent Beca took after, "You have excellent taste in women hun, she's just gorgeous isn't she?"

Beca just rolled her eyes at the exchange, picking up her bags, and heading to the trunk of the car. Chloe grabbed her own bags as well, Ellie looking flabbergasted.

"Beca Mitchell, are you not helping your girlfriend with her bags? Surely I raised you better than that!"

"No, no it's fine, honestly-" Chloe started to quickly defend her girlfriend as Beca's head whipped round, realising that she'd left Chloe to grab her own.

"I forget sometimes because Chloe's so strong that I need to be chivalrous... I mean you should see the upper arm strength on her!" Beca winked, gently taking her bags from her girlfriend as she blushed.

"Beca..." Chloe gushed, sliding her arms around her waist from behind, kissing her cheek, "You sweetie." Ellie watched her daughter grin, leaning back into Chloe's embrace. She smiled, it was nice to see her daughter so happy, and Chloe seemed lovely. Maybe Thanksgiving with her ex wouldn't be so bad.

"Alright lovebirds, get in the car. God forbid we keep Hank and Shelia waiting..." Ellie muttered, Beca visibly tensing as she got in the car, Chloe close behind.

"Mom, do me a favour and don't start anything with dad yeah? I just want a nice, quiet Thanksgiving..." Beca pleaded.

"Me?! I'm a saint!" Ellie put a hand on her chest, feigning offence and hurt. Beca simply raised an eyebrow in response, "Okay, okay... I'll be as good as gold I promise!" Ellie grinned at her in the rear view mirror, watching as Beca relaxed a little, her hand in Chloe's.

A little while later, they pulled up outside Dr Mitchell's house, Beca taking a deep breath as she could see her dad and Shelia waiting at the front door for them, warm smiles on their faces.

"Here we go..." she mumbled, getting out of the car. Chloe clambered out after her, going to help Ellie get the bags from the trunk as Beca went over to her dad.

"Hey Beca!" Her dad pulled her into a warm embrace, Beca smiling reluctantly.

"Hey dad, hey Shelia." She waved at her step-mom whilst hugging her dad.

"Hi Beca, I'm glad you could come!" She smiled. Beca nodded as she pulled away from the hug, Chloe joining her with her bags.

"Dad, Shelia, you remember Chloe right? From the Bellas?" Beca introduced them to Chloe who smiled widely, shaking both of their hands as Beca's mom rolled her eyes.

"Yes of course! We're really glad you could make it too." Shelia was grinning from ear to ear, "It'll be nice to have a lovely family holiday all together!"

Beca gave Chloe a sideways glance as Chloe nudged her with her elbow, "Be nice..." she whispered, as they entered the house. It was cozy and homely, autumnal decorations adorning the doorways, a large cornucopia on the kitchen island. Chloe smiled softly, taking Beca's hand in hers, "It looks amazing!" She remarked, smiling at Shelia.

"Aw, thanks! I always loved Thanksgiving..." Shelia sighed happily, Beca's mom miming dry heaving in the corner of Beca's eye, Shelia not noticing, "I'll show you two to your room." Beca and Chloe followed her upstairs, Beca tensing slightly at the thought of her parents alone downstairs. Chloe gave her hand a gentle reassuring squeeze, the two carrying their bags between them. Shelia opened the door to let the two women into the guest room. It was cozy, decorated with blankets, throw pillows, and...

"Is that a pride flag?!" Beca asked, a bemused look on her face, eyes drawn to the huge flag over the bed.

"Yeah... is it too much? Your dad said it was too much, I can take it down-" Shelia stammered.

"No, no! It's great, I really appreciate it." Beca reassured her, a warm genuine smile on her face, "Seriously Shelia, I really appreciate all of this. Especially you letting mom come, I know she can be... well, kind of a dick, especially where dad's concerned."

"Beca it's fine, I promise." Shelia grinned, leaving the two to settle into the guest room, "We'll probably do dinner at about six-ish, so you guys can just crash for a bit, wash the travel off yourselves if you want. Bathroom's across the hall."

"Thanks Shelia." Chloe smiled, the older woman leaving them alone to unpack, "See, I told you it'd be okay!" Chloe turned to her girlfriend, winding her arms around her waist, pulling her close.

"Yeah, yeah... but it's only the start, there's plenty of time for things to go wrong..." Beca sighed, her head resting on Chloe's shoulder as the redhead pulled her in for a tight hug.

"Have a little faith Beca, you never know they might surprise you." Chloe mumbled into her hair.

It was Thanksgiving morning. The night before had been largely uneventful, they'd had a quiet dinner, the odd barbed comment exchanged, but nothing that had caused anything explosive to happen. Beca was starting to relax a little, almost enjoying being at home for a change, and Chloe had completely won over her parents, by all accounts being the perfect girlfriend (which of course she was anyway, but it was nice that her parents agreed). The brunette had been lured downstairs by the smell of bacon, Chloe still fast asleep, splayed out on her front and snoring softly. Beca chuckled softly, grabbing her hoodie and slipping it on as she went to see who was cooking.

"Morning Beca. Sleep well?" Her dad asked, a warm smile on his face, moving the bacon and the pan.

"Yeah, thanks." Beca walked over to the coffee machine, grabbing two cups, "You want one?"

"No, thanks. I've already got one. How's Chloe?" Dr Mitchell continued to cook breakfast as he made small talk with his daughter.

"Still asleep." Beca chuckled, "Which is nice. She hasn't slept great since the Cayman Islands."

"That's understandable. She went through something awful. You all did." A small smile tugged at Beca's lips but she didn't look up from the mugs, "How are you sleeping Beca?" He asked. Beca simply shrugged.

"Okay I guess. It wasn't easy the first couple of weeks or so, but I do okay." Beca focused on stirring the sugar and milk into her and Chloe's coffee as her dad smiled softly.

"Alright. I'm glad. As long as you're okay." Beca's dad knew better than to try and force his daughter to have a conversation that she wasn't ready for. There was definitely something bothering her, and he'd noticed that Beca was not only drinking more than usual, but that when he had hugged her hello there was whiskey on her breath. He was worried, but was also reluctant to comment. It could have just been holiday nerves, he knew that his strained relationship with her mother was hard on Beca.

"I am. Especially now I've got Chloe." She grinned, finishing off their drinks.

"You really love her don't you?" Beca's dad laughed lightly, enjoying this softer side of his daughter.

"Yeah... feels weird admitting it to you though. Who admits that to their dad, ew..." Beca grimaced as her dad laughed, "I'm gonna take these up before I say anything else cringey..."

"No bacon?"

Beca shook her head, "Not just yet. Chloe needs a coffee first before she can do anything."

"Alright then. I'll save you two some."

"Thanks dad. For all of this." Beca smiled at him.

"Anytime Beca."

Beca carefully carried the cups up the stairs, almost bumping into her mom as she came out of the bathroom.

"Jeez mom, you scared the crap out of me!"

"Sorry Becs! Ooo, one of those for me?" She winked.

"Nope. You want coffee you've gotta brave the kitchen with dad." Beca grinned, gently pushing the door to Chloe and her room open with her foot as her mother sighed heavily, running a hand through her hair as she headed to get herself a coffee.

Once in the room, Beca set down the cups quietly, pausing as she looked at her bag, knowing there was one of those airplane bottles of tequila in there. Sure it was a little early, but it was the holidays. It didn't really go in coffee, but the coffee would probably hide the smile on her breath afterwards. She checked to make sure Chloe was still asleep before kneeling down, her back to the bed, and grabbing the small bottle, taking a large swig, downing half of it.

"Beca? What're you doing?" Chloe's sleepy and confused voice made Beca leap out of her skin.

"Jesus Chlo!" She quickly rescrewed the cap onto the bottle, stuffing it in the front of the bag again and grabbing a mint out of the packet, quickly putting it into her mouth, "You frightened the life out of me then! I was just getting a mint, didn't want my morning breath to gross you out." Beca turned to her grinning, picking up the coffee cups again, offering Chloe one. The redhead was now half sat up, half lay down, hair messy and knotted. Her eyes glittered in the morning sunlight that filtered in through the curtains, her soft sleepy smile so full of love that Beca could feel all her worries slipping away.

"God you're beautiful..." Beca breathed, a light blush spreading across Chloe's face as she took one of the cups from Beca.

"You're such a softie Beca." She laughed lightly, Beca clambering into bed next to her, resting her head on her shoulder.

"Only for you Beale." Beca kissed her cheek, the two settling into a happy and comfortable silence, content to to just listen to the other breathe. Mornings like this were so few and far between, that they savoured them when they could. A light knock at the door jolted them both from their trance.

"Come in!" Chloe called, Beca pulling a face, wanting more time with just Chloe. Shelia gently pushed the door open, a tray in her hands.

"Sorry ladies, but Hank was wolfing down the bacon and eggs, so I figured I'd bring you some before he ate it all." Sheila grinned, setting the tray on the bed as Chloe hungrily eyed up the food (bacon, eggs, french toast, waffles... the Mitchell's really pulled out all the stops).

"Yeah... my mom has that affect on him..." Beca smiled sheepishly. Shelia simply raised her eyebrows in response, Chloe not really paying any attention at all, trying to figure out what she wanted to eat first, "Sorry Shelia... do you want me to have a word?"

"No, don't be silly Beca, it's fine. It's only for another day or two, and it's not that bad." Shelia reassured her, leaving the two of them to tuck into the breakfast. Chloe grabbed a waffle, putting in her mouth as she piled bacon and eggs onto one of the plates Shelia had brought up, as Beca chuckled.

"No-one loves breakfast like you do Chlo..." Beca took the other plate, grabbing some of the bacon and eggs before Chloe could eat it all.

"Is really nice!" Chloe exclaimed, mouth full of food. Beca shook her head, gently wiping away a bit of egg that was stuck to the side of Chloe's face with her thumb.

They continued to eat in relative silence, Beca totally enamoured with the way Chloe just blissfully munched her way through the food that was brought up. She was more like her normal self than she'd been in a long time, almost like a burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Beca wasn't sure what had been said in Aubrey's bathroom the night of the Halloween party, but it seemed to have lifted something from Chloe. Beca made a mental note to text Aubrey later and thank her. After breakfast was finished, Chloe kissed Beca's forehead, mumbling something about a shower as she grabbed a change of clothes from her bag and headed for the bathroom. She shut the door behind her, sliding the latch across and turning on the shower. Her phone buzzed, and she picked it up, smiling as she read the text from Aubrey.

How goes Divorce Thanksgiving? x

Not as bad as you'd think! Even B seems to have relaxed a bit... x

Beca? Relaxed around her parents? Never... you've been spiking her coffee haven't you? x

Haha. Nothing of the sort thank you! How's my favourite niece enjoying her first Thanksgiving? x

You know she's your only niece right? x

A picture came through as well, baby Bella clad in an adorable turkey onesie, a happy smile on her face. Chloe squealed.


I knowwww... still can't believe she's mine! :3 x

Give her lots of kisses from Auntie Chloe! x

Always. Good luck with Thanksgiving :) x

Chloe set her phone down, a wide grin on her face. She got in the shower, letting the hot water run over her body, washing away the last remnants of sleep from her. As she often did, Chloe started to sing, the melodic tune carrying around the bathroom. Unknown to her, Beca was lent against the door frame of her room, coffee cup in hand, smiling softly as she listened to her sing, her voice carrying through the door. Beca's mom appeared, standing next to Beca, a look of wonder on her face.

"God she's got a set of pipes on her hasn't she?" Ellie remarked, an eyebrow raised, an impressed smirk on her face.

"Tell me about it..." Beca had a dreamy far away look on her face, reminiscing about a particular shower incident from her freshman year, "She's amazing isn't she?"

"I've never seen you this smitten Becs!" Ellie laughed, "It's a good colour on you." Beca rolled her eyes, sipping her coffee, content to listen to Chloe sing. Beca's mom rummaged in the pocket of her robe, pulling out a small square box, "Here... I was gonna give you this at Christmas but you're gonna be in Portland."

Beca's eyes widened as she set the coffee down on the floor by her feet, taking the box from her mom and opened it. Inside was a glittering silver diamond ring, simple yet elegant. Tears pricked the corners of Beca's eyes as she looked at her mother again, "Mom... this is- it's beautiful."

"It was your grandma's. She wanted you to have it for your wedding. I mean, she was massively homophobic, so this will probably have her spinning in her grave, but sod her. She was a grumpy ass." Ellie grinned as Beca gave her a tight hug, "It doesn't have to be any time soon, but whenever you're ready, I think Chloe would look great in it."

Beca pulled away from the hug, wiping her eyes as she tucked the box discreetly into her hoodie pocket, "Thanks mom. I love it... I hope Chlo will... I better hide this in my bag before she comes out of the bathroom." Ellie nodded, leaving Beca to hide the ring, a soft smile on her lips. Beca went over to her bag, remembering the hidden inside pocket and carefully slipping the box inside, zipping it up. She decided to celebrate with the remainder of the tequila, it wasn't much, but her potential proposal to Chloe was certainly a cause for celebration. Things seemed to finally be going their way.

Chloe hummed as she stood in the kitchen, hair tied in a messy bun, apron on, as she started to peel the yams. She loved cooking, especially at the holidays. Something about making a big meal for the people she cared about soothed her in a way she couldn't explain, so she'd offered to help Beca's dad with the food prep for Thanksgiving dinner. He'd gladly accepted, setting her to work on the yams whilst he prepped the turkey, Shelia out on a run and Ellie having popped out to the off licence ("If I'm gonna get through this holiday surrounded by happy couples, I'm gonna need a lot more alcohol!"). Beca was in the shower, promising to come down and help once she was finished.

"Thanks for this Chloe, I wouldn't normally ask guests to help out..." Beca's dad was clearly at his wits end trying to make sure everything was done on time.

"It's no problem Dr Mitchell! I love doing this sort of thing." Chloe beamed, quickly and easily working her way through the yams.

"Oh please, call me Hank." He grinned, "How did Beca end up with someone as sunshiney as you?"

Chloe laughed, "She acts all tough and 'doom-and-gloom', but she's a big softie really. Besides, someone needs to balance out her glass half empty philosophy."

"Well that's true." Hank responded, "She seems genuinely happy with you Chloe."

Chloe grinned again, looking up from her food prep, "Really?" Hank nodded, "That's all I want, for Beca to be happy."

"I love walking into a room to hear you gushing about me." Chloe jumped as Beca appeared in the kitchen, damp hair tied back, dressed in sweat pants and an old Barden t-shirt. She wound her arms around Chloe's waist from behind, chin resting on her shoulder as the redhead gave a soft happy sigh.

"I can't help it... you're just so damn adorable..." Chloe let her hands fall onto the arms around her waist, leaning against the brunette with a contented smile on her face. They stayed like that for a moment, before Beca broke away, washing her hands and turning to her dad.

"Right! Where do you want me?" She asked, her dad pointing to the rest of the vegetables next to Chloe.

"You can help Chloe with the veg if you don't mind? The other peeler is in the drawer."

"Sure!" Beca retrieved the other peeler and quickly started to help Chloe, the two in sync as they finished the food prep with ease, laughing and joking with Beca's dad as they went along. Shelia and Ellie returned not long after, separately obviously, and between the five of them, all the hard work for dinner was quickly finished. Beca's mom poured them all a glass of wine, and they headed to the living room to relax as the food cooked. Ellie settled in the armchair in the corner, the couples grabbing a sofa each. Despite the lingering tension between Beca's parents, the flow of the conversation was easy, Chloe easily fitting in with the Mitchell-Adams family dynamic.

"So what made you realise you had to fess up about your feelings?" Ellie asked Chloe, and eyebrow arched in mischief.

"Oh y'know, a little light kidnapping and threat of death will do that to a girl." Chloe joked, sipping her wine, "Of course, if Beca hadn't gotten herself shot-" Beca threw her look to try and silence her but it was too late.

"Wait, SHOT?" Ellie exclaimed, Hank frowning and sitting up straighter, a look of concern crossing Shelia's face.

"You were shot?" Hank asked.

"Look, it isn't a big deal..." Beca mumbled.

"You didn't tell them?" Chloe asked, feeling awful that she'd landed Beca in hot water, but also confused as to why her girlfriend hadn't been upfront about it.

"I'm sorry are you saying that you being shot is 'no big thing'?" Her mother asked incredulously, setting her glass of wine down and leaning forwards, angry and concerned that her daughter had hidden details of the incident from her.

"I need another drink..." Beca got up and walked into the kitchen, ignoring the protests from the other people in the living room. All eyes turned to Chloe for an explanation.

"What happened Chloe?" Shelia asked, sensing the other two were still reeling from the news and may act over emotionally.

Chloe sighed, sitting forward, frustrated to have been put in this position, "When we got to the Cayman Islands, Fergus moved us from the boat to this grubby motel room, we were tied to these chairs, gagged, y'know standard kidnap stuff..." Chloe joked weakly, taking a large mouthful of her wine. She didn't want to relive this, but she knew Beca's parents deserved the truth. Unseen by the rest of them, Beca lent against the doorway, listening, another glass of wine in her hand, a shot of bourbon downed whilst she was in the kitchen, "All of a sudden, he- he dragged us to out feet, gags gone, restraints gone, guns to our backs..." Chloe squeezed her eyes tightly shut as if that would somehow stop the images in her head. Beca could see how much she was struggling.

"He lead us into this town square type place..." Beca continued, walking back to her seat, taking Chloe's hand in hers and giving it a reassuring squeeze, "He had two guys with him that he... killed. I think they'd pissed him off, I don't really remember. He was just getting madder and madder, waving his gun around." Beca ran a hand through her hair, biting her lip. The room was deathly quiet. You could hear a pin drop, "Amy, she was walking towards him with the bag full of cash, but he just- he lost it. He pointed the gun at Chloe and I didn't think, I just pushed her out of the way..." Beca had started to cry, the images from that day flashing in her mind. Chloe used her free hand to stroke her hair, kissing her temple.

"She saved my life." Chloe said quietly, a soft smile on her face, "She was in hospital for a few days, unconscious for a day and a half. They had to remove her spleen, and there's still a little bit of bullet in her. Took us twenty five minutes to get through airport security." Chloe laughed lightly as Beca wiped at her eyes.

"I didn't want to tell you guys because I didn't want you to freak out. I'm okay, really. I just have to take antibiotics all the time." Beca smiled.

There was silence in the room, Beca's mom wiping at her own eyes as Hank sniffed, Shelia grabbing a box of tissues, passing one to Ellie and then to Hank. It was quiet for a moment.

"I thought you said it was Aubrey that got shot. I asked you when I heard it on the news..." Hank shook his head in disbelief.

"She did. Through the leg. The guy was an asshole." Beca muttered.

"The bit that's still in you... is it dangerous?" Ellie asked. Beca shook her head.

"No. They want me to get it checked out every so often to make sure, but it just stays there. I'd forgotten all about it until airport security." Beca smiled, "I am okay guys. I was sore for a couple of weeks, but everything is back to normal, I swear."

Ellie silently got to her feet, pulling Beca to her's and hugging her tight. Hank, in an unprecedented move, got up as well, hugging Beca as well, smiling softly at his ex wife. Shelia simply smiled as watched them; maybe this would be what it took to get Beca's mom and dad to put the past behind them. The short brunette was sobbing quietly, the burden of hiding this secret from her parents lifted. Eventually they broke apart, tearful, but comfortable in the knowledge that Beca had finally come clean. Her mother cupped her face in her hands, smiling at her through the tears.

"Next time you get shot, you tell me straight away okay?" She joked, Beca giggling in spite of everything.

"I promise mom..."

A few hours later, the five of them sat around the dinner table, unable to move after the sheer amount of food they had eaten.

"That was so good dad, thanks." Beca rubbed her stomach, trying to ease the solid lump that sat in her stomach.

"Yeah... I don't think I'll be able to eat again until Christmas!" Chloe exclaimed. Hank laughed softly, starting to gather the plates together.

"Thank you ladies. I'm going to clear these plates, why don't you guys go and relax?"

"I'll give you a hand." Ellie offered. Shelia and Beca shared a look of bewilderment, not saying a word lest it ruin the moment. The two exes cleared the table, Ellie following Hank into the kitchen. She placed the plates carefully by the sink, turning to her ex-husband as he proceeded to tinfoil the leftovers.

"We did okay with Beca didn't we?" She asked, smiling softly, "I mean this is a girl who will literally jump in front of a bullet for someone she loves."

Hank chuckled, "She always was dramatic... but she is definitely the best thing to come out of our marriage."

"I mean, it's not like she had much competition..." Beca's mom's dry humour was identical to her daughters, laughing softly as Hank rolled his eyes in a very Beca Mitchell fashion.

"True... but it was worth it though wasn't it? For Beca?" He asked.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat." She grinned.

"Y'know, this is the first conversation we've had in years that hasn't lead to an argument?" Hank mused.

"Huh... so it is. Maybe Beca should've gotten shot sooner..." Ellie laughed at the appalled look on her ex-husband's face, "Oh come on, I'm kidding! It shouldn't have taken this for us to bury the hatchet..."

"No. It shouldn't. But at least we did." Hank put his hand on Ellie's arm, an affectionate smile on his face. There was a moment of happy silence that passed between the two. This Thanksgiving had turned out even better than expected, the catharsis that they all needed. Who would have thought?

The Thanksgiving weekend had ended better than Beca could have ever predicted, seeming like that the full truth of the Cayman Islands had healed the rift that had grown between her parents since the divorce. Beca and Chloe had returned with plenty of leftovers that they had still been finishing off nearly a week later. Emily had picked them up from Beca's dad's and taken them to the airport, stopping for lunch on the way there as they caught up. Emily was crushing her third year of college, already on track to finish her psych degree with honours, her hamster was thriving, and Benji was doing shows at the Fox Theatre and teaching musical theatre classes at the local high school, holding off on his Broadway dreams until they could move to New York together. It was great to see the youngest Bella so happy and content. She'd been emailing Beca and Aubrey her original songs, both of them offering feedback, and Beca looking into getting her an appointment at the record company. With that, the couple had returned home to New York, settling into the sense of familiar domestic bliss that had been such a prominent feature of the last month.

"I should just call her, make an excuse... we should stay here for Christmas, have Stacie and Bree over, see if the other Bellas are free too!" Chloe was pacing back and forth in their apartment, as Beca was packing a suitcase. The holiday trip to Portland was just a day away, and the redhead was trying desperately to get out of it.

"Chloe, it's gonna be okay. We survived Thanksgiving with my divorced parents, I'm sure we can manage Portland..." Beca grinned. If she'd have looked up from her packing she'd have seen the panic and fear in her girlfriend's face. Portland was the last place on earth she wanted to be.

"Trust me, Portland will make that seem like a trip to fucking Disneyland." Chloe snapped, causing Beca to look up from what she was doing, frowning at the redhead's uncharacteristic outburst.


"I'm sorry... you're right. Maybe it won't be as bad as I think..." Chloe sank into the sofa, Beca joining her, wrapping her in her arms.

"It'll be fine Chloe. I'll be there to support you, you're not going through this alone."

"You can't be my girlfriend whilst we're there Beca..." Chloe whispered, burrowing her head into Beca's hair.

"I know. And that sucks. But that doesn't mean that I can't support you when you're struggling, I was doing it for years before we dated remember?" Chloe simply sniffed in response, the brunette frowning deeply, "Look, maybe we should stay home... if it's bothering you this much-"

"No." Chloe shook her hand, sitting up, "You were right. It'll probably be okay. As long as you're coming too?"

"Of course." Beca smiled softly, tucking a lock of Chloe's red hair behind her ear, "I'd go to hell and back for you Beale, don't you forget it."

"Dork." Chloe giggled, leaning in and kissing her softly, "Alright, I'm going to get some toiletries from the store, do you need anything?"

"No I think I'm good." Beca got up from the sofa and returned to her packing as Chloe grabbed her bag, purse, and phone. The redhead reached the lift as her phone started to ring. She answered.

"Hey Bree, what's up?"

"I just wanted to check on you. I know you're going to Portland tomorrow, and wanted to make sure you were doing okay."

"I'm okay. Just stressed. They're all going to be there and I just- I haven't been back since I left for Barden. Mom visited a few times whilst I was at Barden, but I never had to- had to face it head on like this." Chloe sighed, running a hand through her hair.

"I know. You sure you're ready to go back?" Aubrey's voice was tinged with concern.

"I've got Beca. It'll be okay." Chloe sounded more like she was trying to convince herself than Aubrey.

"Did you tell her about it yet?"

"I couldn't... things have been so great recently, I just-"

"Chloe... you have to tell her. She's out of her mind worrying about what's bothering you, you know that."

"Aubrey... I'm trying. I promise. But I'm terrified. Terrified of what she'll say, what she'll do... she's going to hate me for it."

"Chloe none of it was your fault. You know that right?"

"Yeah..." Chloe lied, "I just don't want her to leave me..."

"She is not going to leave you Chloe. Just tell her. We had a deal remember?" Aubrey's tone is lightly teasing, but Chloe knows she means it.

"Okay. Okay, I'll tell her... I'll try..."

"I love you Chloe. It's going to be okay."

"I gotta go Bree..."

"Okay. Keep in touch yeah? This weekend's gonna be tough, but I'm right here if you need me."

"I know. Thanks Bree. I'll talk to you later." Chloe hung up, sighing softly. She knew Aubrey was right, she was leading Beca into the situation blind and that wasn't fair. But the thought of telling her made Chloe feel nauseous, this was a part of herself that she had only shared with one person, and even she didn't know the full extent of it. How was she supposed to tell Beca any of it?

Beca finished her packing, zipping up the case. She stood with her hands on her hips, a look of smug pride on her face. She was never this organised, it seemed like living with Chloe for nearly three years was starting to rub off on her. She grabbed the half bottle of wine from the fridge, pouring herself a large glass to celebrate, sitting down on the couch and pulling out her phone, noticing that she had a text from Stacie.

Word on the street is you getting shot got your parents to stop hating each other... did you not think to try that earlier?

Haha. Kinda felt like a last ditch attempt, had to save it for something special.

Fair XD You ready for Portland or are you gonna do your usual last minute packing frenzy?

Already sorted actually. And it isn't a frenzy. More of a controlled panic.

Surrrrre ;)

Can I show you something?

Beca got up and pulled her travel bag out from under the bed, removing the ring box from the hidden pocket, and snapping a photo of it.

Beca this may disappoint you to hear, but I am a happily married woman! And I don't think Bree would go for a threesome with you...

Very funny. Wait, what do you mean not with ME?
Nvm don't answer that... just look at this will you?

Beca sent the photo, sitting crossed leg on the floor, chewing her lip nervously.

Dude. DUDE. Did you get Chloe an engagement ring?

Mom gave it me at Thanksgiving... some kind of family heirloom, didn't think we were fancy enough for that...


Alright Conrad, chill out. I haven't even asked her yet!


Eventually... I guess so, yeah


Look, I just wanted to make sure it was alright, I know nothing about jewellery...

Beca it's fucking gorgeous! She's gonna love it :)

Okay then... I guess I'd better figure out when...


Can you just be cool for 2 minutes Stacie ffs


Just don't say anything to anyone. Not yet.


Jfc... seriously Stace, not a word to anyone. Not even Aubrey.

Finnnnne :( can I tell Bella? She can't even talk yet so she won't tell a SOUL.


I can hear your eyes rolling from here y'know

Beca grinned, quickly stashing the ring box under the bed again. It was settled then. She was going to ask Chloe Beale to marry her.

It was Christmas Eve. The chilly winter winds of Portland sent a chill down Chloe's spine as she shivered, pulling her coat around her tighter. 'Why am I back here?' She wondered, looking around her. Beca stood next to her, wanting nothing more than to pull her close; Chloe had been uncharacteristically quiet the whole way there (which had made the nearly six hour flight feel even longer), barely even looking over at her girlfriend as she chewed at a hangnail on her thumb. Beca didn't mind having to go back in the closet for a few days, nor did she mind having to pretend to be still dating Jesse in case Chloe's parents asked (sure their relationship had only lasted a month, but they had parted on good terms as Beca explained that it wasn't anything Jesse was doing, just that she didn't think she was into dudes). No, the thing that Beca minded was not being able to comfort her the woman she loved when she was so clearly in distress. She hadn't been this bad in months, and it bothered Beca. She should have insisted that they'd stayed home…

"Are you okay?" She asked, reaching out to take Chloe's hand before catching herself, letting her arm fall limply to her side.

"I'm fine." Chloe's smile was faint, Beca noticing the dull hue of despair and fear that had occurred in the Cayman Islands was starting to return to her girlfriend's normally glittering blue eyes, "Just tired that's all…"

"We're not here long. After Boxing Day, we can go home, spend New Year's with our other family." Beca grinned, as Chloe's smile grew a little bigger.

"That's true…" Chloe nodded, "Only three days till I get to be your girlfriend again… I suppose I could manage that!"

"Speak for yourself…" Beca muttered, an eyebrow raised, a mischievous grin on her face. Chloe simply rolled her eyes, standing as close as she dared to the brunette.

"I'm sure you'll survive Becs."

A car horn honked, Chloe jumping out of her skin as she spun round, a car pulling to a stop. A tall young man got out, a wry smile on is face. His eyes were the same piercing shade of blue as Chloe's, hair the same fiery shade of red. Beca frowned slightly; surely he was too young to be Beca's dad.

"Heyyy lil Chlo!" He grinned, wrapping the redhead in his arms as she smiled warmly.

"Hey Luke." Chloe gave him a tight hug back.

'Ohhh… her brother…' Beca had only heard Chloe mention him in passing, not having ever even seen a photo of him, or any of Chloe's family in fact.

"And you must be the stray Chloe brought home for Christmas!" Luke turned to Beca winking.

"Luke, be nice. This is Beca, she's my best friend, we used to be in the Bellas together." Beca bristled slightly at the 'stray' comment but still forced a smile on her face, shaking the hand that was offered to her.

"Hi. It's really great of you guys to let me tag along."

"We didn't have a choice really, we figured it was the only way that Chlo would come home for a change." Chloe's smile was strained as she picked up her bags heading for the trunk of the car.

"I've just been busy Luke, the Bellas always had huge gigs around Christmas, and then after college I was busy trying to get into vet school!"

Beca knew she was lying, Christmas was always quiet for the Bellas, but she felt the need to back up her friend, "Yeah, without Chloe the Bellas would've fallen apart, no-one could them in check quite like her. And I've never seen anyone work so hard for vet school,"

"Alright, we get it, you're the president of the Chloe Beale fan club!" Luke laughed, rolling his eyes. Beca could feel her skin crawl. God she wanted to punch him, "Come on, get in. Mum's desperate to see you." Beca put her bags next to Chloe's in the trunk.

"Okay, I see why you wanted to stay home…" She whispered, Chloe's smile clearly forced as she looked at Beca, but she said nothing, simply climbing into the back seat. Beca frowned slightly, shutting the trunk and going round to the other side of the from Chloe. This was clearly going to be a very long Christmas.

"There she is! There's my girl!" Chloe's mum exclaimed, wrapping her tightly in her embrace as Chloe walked through the door, catching the young redhead a little off guard.

"Hey momma…" Chloe hugged her back, a soft smile on her face, Luke rolling his eyes as he barged past them, grabbing a beer from the fridge and disappearing into what Beca assumed was the living room.

The journey from the airport had been silent, Chloe looking out of the window the whole way, all but ignoring the brunette. Beca had noticed that Chloe's phone kept buzzing periodically, but the young vet had ignored it. Beca could feel a knot forming in her stomach. Portland Chloe was not the same Chloe that she had known all these years, and it scared her, because in Portland Chloe was frightened. She was depressed. She was… vulnerable. The enigmatic, joyful, optimistic, slightly neurotic woman that she had fallen in love with wasn't this meek, mournful, quiet shell that stood in front of her. Beca fought back her tears as Chloe's mom turned to her.

"And you must be Beca! I've heard a lot about you over the years, it's lovely to finally meet you in person!" Beca was the next to be wrapped in a tight hug, Beca awkwardly hugging her back.

"That's me… it's very nice of you to let me come Mrs Beale."

"Oh nonsense dear, it's Christmas, the more the merrier!" Mrs Beale pulled back from the hug, grinning broadly at her daughter, "Now, with Luke and Chloe being home for Christmas we don't have a spare room for you, so I set up a camp bed at the foot of Chloe's bed, I hope that's okay?"

"It's great. Thank you." Beca smiled, silently thrilled. At least she could still share a room with Chloe, even if they were pretending not to be dating. At that moment, the front door opened again, and a tall older man walked into the house. His sheer presence was intimidating, he had the physique that came with a physically demanding job, and there was something of an air of menace in the scowl on his face.

"Chloe. You decided to grace us with your presence this year then?" Beca found her eyes fixed on the sheer mountain of a man in front of her, not noticing as Chloe flinched slightly, eyes bright with fear, jaw clenched.

"Sorry dad. I should've come home sooner…" The redhead fought to keep the tremble out of her voice.

"And who's the brunette?" He looked down at Beca, glaring.

"I'm Beca… Mitchell. I'm a friend of Chloe's from Barden." Something about Chloe's dad made Beca's blood run cold.

"Hmm. Would you mind moving this bags Beca… give me a moment alone with my daughter? Her room is up the stairs to the left."

Beca nodded, grabbing the bags, Chloe's eyes fixed on the ground as Beca brushed past her, chest punding so hard she was sure everyone could here it. She quickly found Chloe's room, opening the door, a soft smile on her face as she noticed the fairy lights strung from the ceiling. It was good to see that some things hadn't changed, Chloe had always been a dork. She carefully set Chloe's bag on the single bed in the centre of the room, leaving her own on the floor next to the camp bed. Beca couldn't shake the knot of worry in her stomach, not entirely comfortable with having left Chloe alone. Something was definitely off.

Chloe’s dad waited until Beca had disappeared from sight, before grabbing Chloe by the wrist tightly, pulling her close. Chloe let out a little gasp, the familiar feeling of all consuming terror washing over her.

“You better not be doing what I think you’re doing.” He growled, voice low so that their house guest wouldn’t overhear.

“No- no, I swear.” Chloe protested, her father’s grip tightening, “Beca’s a friend. Jesse, her boyfriend, he works in LA, he’s away on a business trip over Christmas, so I invited her so she wouldn’t be on her own.”

“If I catch you in a lie…” The implied threat was far more terrifying than anything that he could’ve verbalised, Chloe trembling like a leaf in his grip, the grip so tight Chloe was convinced that he’d cut off all the circulation to her hand.

“You won’t, I promise… dad you’re hurting me, please…” Chloe’s voice was barely above a whisper, unable to look him in the eye as he let go, pushing Chloe away. She stumbled, catching herself as she grabbed a chair to keep herself upright, her legs threatening to give way underneath her. Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes, her breath coming in short gasps as she tried to calm herself down. At that point, her eyes met a familiar bluey-grey pair, tears running down Beca’s face as she watched the scene unfold, hidden from view. Chloe squeezed her eyes shut. ‘Oh no… Beca. Please don’t look…’

“Get yourself upstairs and cleaned up. You missed dinner, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for something to eat.” Her father dismissed her, Chloe all but running up the stairs, closely followed into her room by a distressed Beca, who closed the door behind them.

“Chloe… what the hell was that about?” Beca’s eyes were wide with fear, watching as Chloe crumpled onto the floor, a hand clamped tight over her mouth to hide the sobs that shook her body. Beca dropped to the floor, instinctively going to pull the redhead into a hug, but Chloe pushed her away, shaking her head furiously, with the same fear and desperation that she’d shook it in the Cayman Islands when Beca, bound and gagged, had tried to scoot her chair closer to her, “Tell me how to help you…” She whispered desperately, hating feeling so powerless, so useless that all she could do was sit there and watch as Chloe broke down.

“Beca… why did I come here?” She choked through her sobs, looking to the brunette for answers.

“Because you love your mom, and you felt bad about the way she found out about the kidnapping…” Beca didn’t want to tell her that she didn’t understand why Chloe had come back either after what she had just seen. It wouldn’t help.

“I want to go home.” Chloe cried, finally accepting the hug from Beca, clinging to the front of her shirt like an infant as she sobbed heavily. Beca held her close and tight, her heart breaking, hot tears sliding down her own cheeks.

“Okay, okay. We’ll fix it, we’ll figure something out, I promise.” Chloe shook her head again.

“We can’t. He’ll know. I can’t- I can’t do it again Beca, I can’t go back there, I CAN’T!” Chloe was inconsolable at this point, Beca just holding her close. She waited for Chloe’s cries to subside a little, seeming like an eternity before she stopped.

“What is going on Chloe? Is this what you haven’t been telling me?” Beca’s eyes were full of concern as the redhead pulled away, sniffing and wiping her eyes with her sleeve.

“… Yes.” She whispered, barely audible. God, know she had to tell Beca everything. There was no way that Beca was letting it go after all that, “Beca, there’s so much I haven’t told you… haven’t told anyone… but I’m scared.”

“What’re you frightened of?” Beca’s tone was soft as she looked at the woman she loved. She looked so small, so scared, that Beca was worried that if she touched her she’d shatter like glass.

“That- that you’ll hate me. That you’ll leave me…” Chloe wasn’t looking at Beca. She couldn’t. She wanted to take the comfort from her eyes, from her loving smile, but she couldn’t.

“Chloe… nothing you could ever say could make me hate you. I will never leave you. Not for a second.” Beca promised, entirely sincere. How could she leave her over this? What kind of monster would do that?

“You don’t know that… you haven’t heard-“ Chloe looked up, seeing the sincere expression on her face.

“I promise you Chloe. Whatever it is, no matter how bad you think it is, I’m not going anywhere.”

Chloe nodded softly. She had to take that chance. She was too tired to carry it anymore.    

Chapter Text

Aubrey sighed as she ran her head through her hair. It'd been incredibly stressful and she was exhausted, with Bella having been up three times in the night. She'd had a fever, and whilst it had broken and Bella was now settled in her cot, sleeping peacefully, it had been Aubrey up with her each time, Stacie having a busy day at work ahead of her. To add to this, her leg was throbbing, she'd jarred it awkwardly at the Lodge whilst trying to lead a training session, and it had been causing her an issue ever since, not to mention the stacks of paper work that had been building up for weeks with her only being there part time. And then, well, there was the small matter of them not having sex. It was ridiculous, Aubrey knew that, but she felt like ever since she'd returned from the USO Tour Stacie hadn't been interested in her like that and she couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong... wrong with her. She closed her eyes tight, taking a deep breath. When she opened them again, she looked at the clock. She had two hours until Stacie was home.


"You're carrying all of your own problems, AND you're carrying a huge secret for Chloe?" The therapist frowned, sitting forward slightly as she looked at Aubrey with concern.

"Yeah, I guess... Chloe trusted me with it, she needed someone on her side for a change." Aubrey wrung her hands together, a sad smile on her face.

"Have you told anyone about it?"

"No. Never. It's not my place."

"How does that affect things with Stacie?"

Aubrey sighed, sitting back in her chair, "She know's there's something going on with Chloe, and she knows that I know what it is, and it bothers her that I won't tell her about it."

"So why don't you?"

"I-I don't know. Chloe... she's the sister I never had, she's been my rock for so long, I'd feel like I was betraying her somehow. But Stacie? She's my soulmate, and I know that's cheesy and I've rolled my eyes at enough people who've said that but it's like... she's an extension of myself. No-one knows me like Stacie does, not even Chloe. She's the person who nurses me when I'm sick, who buys me chocolate when I'm on my period, who knows exactly how I like my feet massaged. Who can tell when I've had a bad day just by the look on my face, who knows when I'm struggling with my job, with my family. She's the mother of my child. It's like I'm stuck... I want to tell Stacie, hell I need to tell her... but I don't want to betray Chloe either, this is huge for her and it's not my place to tell anyone about it..." Tears slipped down Aubrey's cheek as she offloaded the stress of the situation.

"I may have a work around for you." The therapist smiled softly, able to see just how much the young blonde in front of her loved the women in her life, and could sense how difficult this whole situation was for her, "Write it out, as a letter to Stacie. Write down what you'd say if you told her Chloe's secret, get it all out of your system. And then burn it. Light it on fire, destroy it. That way, you can unburden yourself, tell your wife, and keep Chloe's secret."

Aubrey looked thoughtful as she ran her hand through her hair again, "I guess that could work... worth a try at least..."


She checked the baby monitor one more time, and then picked up the pen in front of her, "This is stupid..." She muttered, staring at the blank page. Aubrey sighed, fiddling with the pen in her hand, before writing 'Dear Stacie'. She paused, and then started writing again, the words suddenly pouring out of her, losing track of time entirely until Bella started to cry. Her head jolted up at the sound of her daughter's distress, realising an hour had gone past. She looked down, realising she'd written nearly four pages of emotional outpouring, shaking her head a little as she got up to see to her daughter. It took her nearly twenty minutes soothe Bella, the five month old recovering from a cold, a hell of a way to spend her first Christmas. Aubrey ran a hand through her hair as she sighed heavily, slowly walking back to the kitchen table, but the pain in her leg after spending twenty minutes stood with her daughter in her arms was too much for her, and it buckled underneath her, sending her crashing to the floor.

"Shit!" Aubrey cursed as she hit the ground, not hearing Stacie unlock the door as her elbow hit the floor at a painful angle.

"Hey babe, I finished up early and-" Stacie walked through the front door, cheerful, until she noticed her wife on the floor, "Oh my God, Bree are you okay?!" She rushed over as Aubrey struggled to keep her composure, the events of the long day finally starting to overwhelm her.

"Fan-fucking-tastic." She spat, frustrated and in pain. Stacie carefully helped her to her feet, settling her into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, "Bella has been up and down since ten last night with a cold, my leg is throbbing after I tried to do my damn job, my best friend won't text me back despite the fact that I know she's in a tough spot and I'm worried about her, I have twenty performance reviews still to do, oh and we haven't had sex in nearly five months, and I'm starting to think the problem is me!" Aubrey hadn't meant to rant at Stacie, especially as she'd just gotten home from work, but she was exhausted and sick of carrying all the emotional stress that was dragging her down.

"Oh baby, I'm sorry." Stacie smiled softly, sitting in the chair opposite her wife, taking her hand and kissing it, "The problem is not you, I just know that you've got a lot on your mind lately. I didn't want to push you, especially not with your leg..."

"I know. I'm sorry, I'm just exhausted..."

"I know you are. It's an early night for you. If Bella wakes again I'll get her." Stacie promised, her wife smiling gratefully, "Now how about some tea?"

"That sounds amazing. Thanks Stace."

Stacie stood up and made the tea, setting a mug in front of Aubrey and frowning a little as she noticed the letter on the table, turning it so that it faced her as he sat down again, Aubrey panicking having forgotten all about the therapeutic exercise that she'd be doing.

"What's this?"

"Nothing. A therapy thing." Aubrey tried to snatch it away, but Stacie put her hand firmly on top of it.

"It's addressed to me..." She started.

"Stacie, it's nothing..."

"Bree… what's going on?" Stacie put a hand on her arm, the blonde looking at her with panic and anguish. This wasn't supposed to be happening, "Why are you writing me a letter? What does it have to do with Chloe?" Stacie had managed to read the first few words before Aubrey had realised that she'd found it.

"I- I should sort something out for dinner. Just please don't read that."

"Aubrey!" Stacie was annoyed, wanting Aubrey to stop avoiding the question.

"Look… I know that you want to know what's going on with Chloe, okay... it's just, this is huge for her and I don't want her to feel like I betrayed her…" Aubrey whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. She sighed again, looking up from the letter to her wife, a small sad smile on her face, "I'm sorry. It's Bella's first Christmas. You have my full attention, we can sort this after."

"This thing that's eating Chloe up, it's eating away at you too. I can see it." Stacie took Aubrey's hand in hers, "You know you can trust me baby, please just tell me what's going on…" Stacie wanted to respect Chloe's secret (after all she was keeping a pretty big one for Beca), but she couldn't bear to see the weight it was putting on Aubrey anymore.

Aubrey looked down at her hands. This was Chloe's secret, her story to tell, but Aubrey was tired. Tired of having to pretend that she didn't know what was happening, tired of having to hide it for Chloe. Today had been too much, and getting this off her chest would mean that she could breathe a little again. Chloe was going to tell Beca soon, so why couldn't Aubrey relive herself of the burden too? She looked up at Stacie, whose green eyes were sparkling with concern, a gentle frown on her face.

"Okay… read the letter. That way I don't have to say it out loud, it's not the same thing as outright telling you I guess. But not a WORD to Chloe right? Promise me…"

"I promise honey. I won't say a thing."

Aubrey took a deep breath, "I only know what she told me, so some of it might not make any sense..."

"Okay…" Chloe wiped at her eyes, heading over to her bedroom door and making sure it was shut. It was at this point, more than at any other point, that she wished that she had been allowed a lock on her door. Instead, she moved the camp bed in front of it as quietly as she could, ensuring privacy, and a warning if anyone tried to come in. She walked back over to Beca, sitting cross legged in front of her girlfriend, her eyes on the floor.

"Wait." Beca got up, rummaging in her bag for something. She pulled out a bottle of honey whiskey that she'd got at the duty free in the airport, unscrewing the cap and passing it to Chloe, "I bought this for your parents, but I feel like we're gonna need it more…"

Chloe gave her a small smile, taking the bottle from her and taking a large swig. She passed it back to Beca as the brunette sat down again, her eyes searching Chloe's face for any sign of the fiery unstoppable force she'd met at Barden, but instead finding a lost and broken soul. Her heart ached, not knowing how to help Chloe. She should never have let them come to Portland.

'How do I even do this… how do I tell her any of this?' Chloe dragged her eyes from the floor for a moment, looking at the brunette. Here was a woman that loved her so much, and she was about to ruin it all…

Taking a deep breath, she decided to start from the beginning.

Growing up in Portland, Ohio is fairly standard for a young Chloe Beale. She's from a blue collar family, she goes to public school, and every Sunday she goes to church. Her father's a factory worker, her mother stays at home and looks after her and her brother. Said brother, Luke Beale, was the star quarterback for the local high school, the whole Beale family well known and adored by their community. It wasn't the most idyllic of childhoods; her father had a temper, and when he was in a blind rage, it was always better to steer clear of him. He had never laid a hand on either of his children, that much could be said, but it hadn't escaped Chloe's notice that whenever her father had roughly grabbed her mother and dragged her down into the basement ("so as not to argue in front of the kids") that she came back with bruises that she tried to desperately hide from her children. But Chloe bought into the family's way of dealing with it; pretend it wasn't happening. It happened so often in fact that it didn't even really register as something that was messed up. Chloe had never really bought into the religious reteric that had shaped her childhood, but you would never know it to look at her. She loved her parents more than anything, and she knew how important it was to them that she went along with it, so she did. She was a 'good girl', home long before curfew, always did her homework, got good grades. So imagine her surprise when she found herself falling head over heels for someone in her English Lit class... for a girl no less. Chloe knew what her parents would say, knew what they'd think, knew how angry they would be. And yet, as she looked over at the young, sandy-haired seventh grader, she could feel her heart skip.

So she pursued it, as innocently as any twelve year old would, and decided to make friends with Jenny, figuring if she could be best friends with her that would satisfy the weird ache she felt. Her and her friend spent every moment possible together, appearing from the outside as two normal pre-teen girls. They studied together, Chloe helping Jenny with English and History, Jenny helping her with her Science and Maths. They were the unstoppable honour roll envy of the seventh grade, but they weren't unpopular for it. Chloe's easy-going smile and bubbly personality made it easy for her to make friends, and Jenny's helpful nature and general likeability drew people to her. Everyone wanted to be friends with them.

Chloe was happy. So happy. Until one night, one mistake, one impulsive decision that brought her whole world crashing down around her ears.

It started off like any other Thursday night. Jenny had come over to study like normal, the two of them heading up to Chloe's room whilst they waited for dinner.

"Okay, so I'm really confused by this poem we did in English Lit, I don't get how people read beyond what's on the page..." Jenny sighed, her nose scrunching in frustration, causing her glasses to shift slightly.

"Which one was it again?" Chloe asked, sifting through her notes from the day.

"Spellbound? The Emily Brontë one?"

Chloe nodded, grabbing her notes from her folder, "I liked this one, it's less... nauseating than some of the others."

"Hey, I like the gooey romantic ones!" Jenny protested, "Definitely more than these doom and gloom ones!"

"But it's not. It reads like that, but it's about the will to fight. How no matter what kind of thing holds her back, she won't take it lying down. This is a woman that was born into a time where women were being oppressed left, right and centre, where people don't understand mental illness, where sanitation isn't something that people really know about. In order to publish Wuthering Heights she had to publish it under a male pseudonym. Her brother died three months before, she got TB from a bad cold at his funeral. She had all of this against her, and she still kept going, kept fighting, right up until the day she died." Chloe's eyes glittered with passion and Jenny couldn't help but grin.

"You're cute when you get all worked up about this stuff." Jenny's smile was wide, as a soft blush spread over Chloe's cheeks.

"I- um..." Chloe stammered, tucking her hair behind both ears as she tried to look anywhere but at the friend, "I just really like  Brontë..."

"I know... the same way you get excited about the Civil Rights movement, you get that same twinkle in your eye," Jenny's smile was smaller this time, softer.

"What like you don't nerd out when we do space science!" Chloe protested, her blush deepening.

"Space science?" Jenny raised an eyebrow, giggling.

"Star making, and giants and all that..." Chloe mumbled, even more embarrassed, her face almost the same colour as her hair.

"Chloe you're adorable..." Jenny grinned, gently reaching over to Chloe's face and tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear that she had missed. Chloe's eyes finally left her notes, meeting Jenny's as her friend smiled warmly at her. Their faces were mere inches from each other, and there was a moment of silence that passed between them, every movement, every breath completely in sync. Jenny slowly closed the gap, their lips brushing. Chloe heart was beating so fast she was convinced the whole house could hear it, but she lent into the kiss. It was clumsy, but soft and caring. Chloe felt like there were fireworks exploding behind her closed eyelids, as her hands - seemingly having a mind of their own - travelled up into Jenny's hair, Jenny's hand on the back of her neck. It felt... right.

"Dinner's in ten minutes guys." The two girls sprung apart as Chloe's dad opened the door and walked in uninvited. Chloe could feel her chest tighten, eyes daring around the room as hot tears pricked at the corner of her eyes, "Hey, you guys hear me?"

"Uh yeah, thanks dad. We'll be right down." Chloe shot him a quick smile, quietly thankful that they'd broke apart fast enough for her dad to have not caught them. After her dad left, Chloe let out the breath she didn't know she was holding, "We can't do that again..." She whispered.

"Sorry..." Jenny whispered, a little hurt.

"No, no. The kiss was fine... it was great actually..." A grin spread across Chloe's face. "I meant we can't do it again here... I just-"

"It's okay." Jenny interrupted, "I get it. No kissing where parents can catch us." She promised.

Dinner passed by as normal, the bedroom incident all but forgotten, except for the fact that Chloe can relive it in her mind beat for beat. But it seems like her own private secret, nobody having seen it (apart from Jenny obviously). She always thought she'd have problems keeping a secret from her family, that the guilt of it would eat her up, but in all honestly, this was a secret she was looking forward to having. Jenny packed her stuff up after dinner, her mom arriving not ten minutes after she had. Chloe hugged her goodbye on the front step, promising to see her at school tomorrow. She practically skipped back into the house after watching them drive away, so happy that she was convinced she was floating. She entered the house shutting the door, before gasping out in pain as someone grabbed her by her hair, dragging her backwards.

"Don't think I didn't see what you were doing in there..." Her father's voice was barely above a whisper, and it struck more fear in her than if he would've yelled. He'd yelled before, more often than not at her brother for walking dirt into the house, but this? This she'd never heard, never seen before.

"Dad, you're hurting me..." Chloe let out out a small sob as the grip in hair tightened.

"On what planet do you think that I would allow that sort of abomination in my house?" He growled, pulling her head back sharply so that she was looking at him. Chloe gasped in pain, her father's eyes black with rage.

"I'm sorry, it won't happen again I swear." Chloe had never seen her father like this, it scared her more than anything else in the whole world.

"I have done my best to instil the proper values in you, to teach you right from wrong. I work my ass off in back breaking, demeaning jobs to put a roof over your head and food on your table, and this is how you repay me?"

"Jack, please..." Chloe's mom quietly begged from the corner of the kitchen.

"Stay out of it Laura." Her mother physically flinched away from him, wanting to help her daughter, but too terrified of the man hurting her to do anything.

"You are a heathen Chloe Beale, and by all rights you will burn in hell. Unless your daddy steps in and saves you..." He began dragging Chloe by hair over to the door which she knew lead to the basement.

"Dad. Daddy, please. You don't have to do this!" Chloe struggled in his grip, trying to dig her heels in, grab onto chairs, anything to stop her dad in his tracks, "Mom, stop him! Please!" Chloe's mother looked away, squeezing her eyes tight to hold back the tears in her eyes as Chloe screamed for her help. Her father all but threw her down the basement stairs, Chloe crying out in pain as she hit the floor, her father making his way down the steps towards her.

"I'm doing this for you Chloe. I'm saving you, can't you see that?" He grabbed her arm roughly, dragging her towards one of the support beams and pulling a cable tie from his pocket.

"Daddy please, it'll never happen again, I'm sorry!" Chloe was sobbing uncontrollably at this point, gasping as the cable tie tightened around her wrists that were now tied around the support post. He cupped her cheek with his hand, smiling sadly.

"Little one, you have sinned. A huge sin that cannot simply be repented away with words. I have to do this for you Chloe, I can cleanse you of this."

"Dad..." Her eyes pleaded with him as he stood up and headed for the basement stairs again, "Please, don't leave me here please..." He ignored her, heading up the stairs and slamming the door shut behind him, leaving Chloe completely alone. She sobbed heavily, her knees pulled tight to her chest. What was happening? Why was he doing this? Why did nobody stop him?

Beca sat there, tears streaming down her face. "Chloe I-"

Chloe held up her hand, taking the whiskey bottle from Beca again and taking a large swig, "Please Beca. Don't. If you stop me, I might never be able to tell you all of it."

Beca simply nodded, taking the bottle back. It was nearly a third gone, and Chloe had been too busy talking to drink it, but neither of them commented on this. Beca just watched as Chloe pulled her sleeves over her hands. She wasn't sure what she thought Chloe had been hiding from her, but it certainly wasn't this. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to hear it all anymore, but she could see that Chloe needed to tell her this, to get it off her chest, because whether she realised it or not, this secret was eating her alive.

It could have been the next morning, it could have only been an hour later, but her father eventually returned with a bottle of water. Chloe had completely dehydrated herself from crying, her eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep. Her father knelt in front of her, unscrewed the cap, and offered her some. She gratefully accepted, more running down her chin then going into her mouth, but somehow she ended up feeling better. Her dad stood up and turned to walk out again.

"Dad... please... I wanna get out... I get it, it's wrong. I won't do it again dad I promise." Chloe's voice was croaky as she begged him again, pleading with her eyes as well as her words.

"No Chloe. This is for the best." He didn't move, keeping his back to her.

"Dad... come on... this is nuts..." Chloe couldn't understand how he could do this, this wasn't the man that she'd grown up with, the man who read to her when she was sick and bought her doughnuts when she'd aced a pop quiz. This had to be someone else, an  impostor. Her father said nothing, but suddenly whirled round and struck her, hard, across the face, her ear ringing from the force of it. Hot tears stung her eyes, and she gasped, half out of pain, half out of shock.

"Chloe Elizabeth Beale, I am your father and your saviour. If I deem something necessary it is. You do not question me, is that clear?"

Chloe could only nod in response, too afraid to say anything in case he hurt her again. She was trembling as her father glared down at her, before he turned and left her alone again, the darkness of the windowless basement becoming almost void like, all consuming to the young woman tied to the support post. She wanted her mom. She wanted Jenny. Surely this couldn't be this wrong, the way she felt about her friend? All her life she been brought up to believe that God was love. How could there be a caveat on that? Omnibenevolence is surely just that; all-loving, not loving conditionally based on... what? Who she loved? She couldn't help it... she hadn't meant to fall in love with her but she everything that ever happened was God's will, then surely this was too? She didn't understand, none of this made any sense. Chloe was scared and alone, she was just a kid. Why was he doing this to her?

Chloe didn't know how long it had been this time when her father reappeared, maybe she'd nodded off somewhere along the way, or maybe it was just impossible to tell time when there was no natural light. This time her father returned with a couple of pieces of dry bread. He was keeping her like a prisoner in her own home. He fed it to Chloe, who had to fight not to attack it like a wild animal, the last time she had eaten was at dinner on Thursday, and god only knew how long ago that was. After she had eaten it, her father pulled out his Bible. Chloe could her heart start to pound again, chest tightening. She didn't know what was coming next, but she knew whatever it was wasn't good. He pulled her to her feet, not a word spoken, Chloe shaking like a leaf. He took off his belt, wrapping it around his hand so that the buckle end was hanging down by his side. Chloe's eyes were transfixed on the belt. She wanted to run, to scream, to beg him not to... but she couldn't move, she could barely breathe.

"But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.' Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him and said, 'I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.' But they replied, "Stand back!" And they said, 'This fellow came here as an alien, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.' Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near the door to break it down. But the men inside reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they were unable to find the door." Chloe's father stood above her, a whole foot and a half taller than his daughter, reciting from the book in his hand, rising his other hand and bringing the belt swinging down hard, the buckle colliding hard with her legs. Chloe cried out in pain as the cold metal struck her leg, drawing blood. Her knees threatened to crumple underneath her as she began to sob again.

"Dad please..." Her pleas fell on deaf ears.

"If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! … Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." He struck her again on the other side of her body this time, the buckle colliding painfully with her ribs, Chloe terrified and confused. Why was he doing this to her? What kind of father did this to their own daughter?

It happened over and over again, a verse, a beating, a verse, a beating, until Chloe crumpled to the floor unable to stand anymore. She was sobbing so hard that her whole body shook, the cable ties biting into her wrist. All she wanted to do was to get out of there, for someone to hold her and tell her she'd be all right, to wake her from this living nightmare. Her mother must be able to hear her, must know what was happening down here. So why, why was she letting this happen? Chloe knew her father could be terrifying, her experience had taught her at least this much, but surely you risk it for your child? Her father said nothing, simply closing his Bible and exiting the basement, not even looking back at his daughter. Once alone in the dark, Chloe's sobs grew louder, echoing around the empty room. She was so alone...

The basement door opened again, stirring Chloe from her uneasy sleep. Her heart started to pound again, her mouth dry. What now? What could he possibly want now?


"Mom?" Tears pricked at Chloe's eyes as light illuminated the basement, her mother using the basement light so she could shut the door behind her, in case her husband tried to see what was going on. Under her arm was the First Aid Kit and a bottle of orange juice (Chloe's favourite), "Mom, you have to talk to him, he's insane, he can't do this!" Chloe's voice was hoarse, her mother holding back the tears as she sat in front of her.

"Chloe I tried... he won't budge on this. You know you sinned-"

"Mom, I swear, I'll never do it again, please... you have to get me out of here, please..." Hot tears pouring down her face as her mom opened the First Aid Kit, her eyes not meeting her daughter's as she started to clean her cuts, hands shaking a little as she used an anti-bacterial wipe to make sure that the situation wasn't any worse for Chloe than it had to be. Chloe winced as her mom cleaned the cut above her eye.

"Chloe... I'm sorry. I wish there was more I could do..."

"You can mom, talk to him, get him to see sense. He can't keep me down here forever, what about school?"

"I'll see what I can do...but you know what he's like, once he has his mind set on something..."

Chloe bit her lip, tears streaming down her face. She understood what the mother was saying, and it was cleared that she too was terrified of her father, but it didn't change the fact that Chloe was suffering. They sat in silence as her mother tended to her wounds, eventually breaking the long silence.

"I know it's not much, but I brought you some OJ. If your dad knew..." Her mother's voiced trailed off, neither one of them needing to finish that sentence.

"Thanks mom..." Chloe whispered, her mouth smiling softly, her eyes full of sadness. Her mother unscrewed the bottle and put a straw in, gently helping Chloe take a drink in the easiest way possible given the current situation.

She waited until Chloe had had her fill before rescrewing the cap onto the bottle and packing up the First Aid Kit. She got to her feet, pausing next to Chloe and lent down to kiss her head, "Be strong baby girl. You can get through this, I know you can." She whispered into her hair.

"Do you have to go now? Can you not just stay a little while?" Chloe begged quietly, not wanting to be left alone in the darkness again. Chloe's mom had to fight hard to keep herself together.

"I'm sorry... I have to go now."

"Okay..." Chloe's voice was barely audible as her mother hurried up the stairs, not wanting Chloe to see her so upset. It wouldn't help her to know that her heart was breaking. Seconds later, Chloe was plunged back into darkness. This had to be what Hell was like. It was the eternal burning inferno that they threatened small children with, it was a crushing black void, a loneliness so strong that it threatened to tear you apart, and not knowing what on earth was going to happen next. Chloe was in Hell, and it was her own father that put her there.

Chloe's father returned on several occasions, performing the same ritual, never allowing Chloe's injuries any time to heal. Chloe wasn't sure how long she'd been locked in the basement, but it felt like months. She wasn't sure how much longer she could take this.

"Jack, you've barely fed her in a week, please just let me take her something!" Chloe could hear her mother's voice through the basement door, and she let out a small sigh. She wasn't even sure that she felt hungry at this point, too tired, and in too much pain to really care about food.

"You will not undermine me here Laura. She needs to be cleansed."

"She is your daughter. How can you treat her like this?!" Chloe heard a loud 'thwack' and closed her eyes tight, flinching a little at the now all too familiar sound.

"Do not question me woman. I am saving our daughter, and I will not have you jeopardise that."

Her world went quiet again as her mother didn't answer back, Chloe letting her head rest on the post behind her. She was too exhausted to fight anymore, whatever happened, happened. She didn't care. Chloe just wanted out. Hearing the basement door creak open for the millionth time, Chloe felt the familiar feeling of fear grip at her chest, and she kept her eyes closed, waiting for the inevitable. But instead of the usual hand gripping her to drag her to her feet, it instead fell on her tied wrists, the tight grip of the cable tie giving way. Chloe opened her eyes, confused even more so by the presence of someone as well as her father in the room.

"Luke?" She croaked, her brother not making eye contact with his little sister as his feet shuffled uncomfortably.

"Don't speak to her Luke. You are here for a task as a servant of the Lord, not as her brother." Her father's voice made her jump as it echoed around the room. He stood behind her as Luke kept his eyes on the ground, hands shaking slightly.

"What? What's going on?" The unfamiliarity of the situation caused on even deeper feeling of fear in the young redhead than usual, as her father walked around to stand next to her brother. Chloe was now untied, but she didn't have the strength to stand up and run, and she couldn't shake the feeling that it was intentional.

No words were spoken, Chloe's father simply nodding to Luke who, hesitantly, stood near Chloe's head. Her father knelt down in front of her, grabbing her ankles and dragging her forward sharply, Chloe's back hitting the concrete floor hard causing her to gasp out in pain. Luke knelt down, his eyes focused on anything but his sister as he took her forearms in his hands and pinned them next to her head. Chloe looked at him, tears slipping down her cheeks as her mouth went dry, breath coming in short, panicked gasps.

"Luke. Luke what's going on?" Chloe knew that she had more chance of getting answers from her brother than her father. She noticed a large bruise was starting to form on his left cheek, he obviously wasn't doing this willingly.

Her father grabbed hold of the waistband of her pants and tugged them down roughly, stopping when they reached her knees, and then doing the same with her underwear. Chloe tried to wriggle free of her brother's grip, but her held on tighter, tears beginning to fall as he squeezed his eyes shut. She heard the sound of her father's belt unbuckling, but unlike every other time she heard that sound, it was followed by the sound of his zipper coming down too.

"No... dad, please..." Chloe couldn't believe this was happening, of all the things that she'd feared would come out of her basement imprisonment, this was the one thing she could never, not in her wildest nightmares, have predicted.

"I have no choice. You must be shown the correct way. You must be shown what a good man is like." He climbed on top of her.

"No. No. Please..." Chloe's voice was barely a whisper. Luke was shaking, Chloe could feel his hands trembling as he continued to pin her arms down, eyes squeezed so tightly shut that it hurt.

It was the longest moment of Chloe's life. A moment she could remember in technicolour, every movement, every sound, every smell ingrained in her so deep that she could never be rid of it, and she had tried everything. Nothing was said as Chloe was left on the basement floor like a rag doll, just laying there, too numb to move, to cry. It was at that moment that something broke in her, that moment a part of her died. Her father had set out to change her, and he'd done just that. Not perhaps in the way he'd intended, but in ways that he could never have predicted, and most certainly ways that he did not care about. Chloe closed her eyes as the basement door shut again, falling deeper into the black abyss than she had ever done before.

"Let me die..." She whispered, "If you're real, let me die..."

Chloe paused at this point, her emotions threaten to overcome her as she squeezed her eyes tightly shut. She couldn't look at Beca. Not yet. Not until she'd heard all of it. Chloe could wait to see the look of disgust and hatred at what a pathetic broken mess she actually was. Yet, if she had opened her eyes, if she had looked into the soft blue eyes of her girlfriend, she wouldn't have seen any of that. The look on Beca's face was one of concern, of love, and of awe at the sheer strength of the woman sat in front of her. Beca couldn't believe how much Chloe had overcome, couldn't believe that she'd been through so much and still kept going, kept fighting. If anything, Beca loved Chloe even more now than she ever had; Chloe was a warrior beyond any earthly comprehension.

What Beca was also feeling though was a slow rising anger deep in the pit of her stomach. She was keeping herself together for Chloe's sake, she could see how much the redhead needed to get it out of her, needed to offload all the pain and trauma that she felt. But all Beca wanted to do was to go downstairs and rip her father's head off his shoulder's with her bare hands. She took another large swig from the bottle of whiskey, trying to use the alcohol to quell the fire running through her veins. Chloe's fingers stretched out for the bottle, not wanting to look up at Beca at that moment. The brunette gently passed to it to her, watching Chloe take a large swig, her hands trembling. She sighed, running a hand through her hair and passing the now two thirds empty bottle back to Beca.

Waking up on the freezing basement floor trembling and aching cemented Chloe's atheism. No God would leave her alive to suffer through this. The basement door creaked, now becoming such a familiar sound that it barely filtered into Chloe's sub-conscious anymore. She didn't move until her mother came into view, sporting a nasty black eye. Chloe shifted herself into a sitting position against the post that she had previously been tied to, sniffing softly as she pulled her pants back up. Her mother couldn't look at her, simply setting a tray down next to her. On it was a ham sandwich and a hot cup of tea, causing Chloe to frown. This never happened.

"Your father is willing to allow you back upstairs on Monday so that you can go back to school as normal." Chloe gasped slightly, looking down at the tray. Did this mean it was finally over? "But he wants you to sign this purity agreement first..." Chloe's eyes moved from the sandwich to the stack of paper beside it, the all to familiar feeling of fear eating away at her.

"What?" Her mouth was dry and her voice hoarse, her eyes dull and exhausted. Her mother still wouldn't look at her, and somehow that made it all worse. Made her feel more broken, more... alone.

"He says you have to sign it before you can have this... but I won't tell him if you want to eat first."

Chloe gave her a small smile, knowing that she was sincere, but picked up the so-called 'purity agreement', convinced he would know if she didn't do it his way. It was a lot of what she was expecting: her father was to pick her up and drop her off from school; she was to end all her friendships, especially with Jenny, in case it should encourage more 'deviant behaviour', unless she was at school she was to remain in her bedroom at all times, eat her meals there, do her homework; the only exception to this was her required weekly attendance at church. And then there was the clause that made Chloe's chest tighten, panic and fear causing her breath to come in short gasps.

'You will submit to monthly corrective intercourse sessions without resistance. Further sessions may be needed if deemed necessary, and these too will be submitted too with no warning and no resistance.'

Chloe was sure that if she had anything to throw up she would, her hands trembling. She bit her lip as she continued to read, trying to stop her head spinning from the sheer terror that she felt. She couldn't go through that again, she couldn't survive it. The rest of the contract was much the same, ending with one final kick to the gut: 'Any and all infringements of the terms of the pledge will result in a return to solitary confinement.' Chloe sighed, running a hand through her hair as her mother simply sat there, staring at the floor. Chloe so wanted to get out of here, wanted to get back to school and away from here, even just for a few hours a day, five days a week, seemed like the reprieve that she needed from her own personal slice of hell. But... how could she agree to that, how could she agree to let him... she couldn't agree to that. But she couldn't stay here in this limbo of not knowing either, and surely, if she knew when it was coming, then it was less terrifying than not knowing what was coming and when? She picked up the pen that was sat on the tray and, hesitantly, signed her name at the bottom. She closed her eyes and let it slip from her fingers, head resting on the support beam behind her. This was never going to end. She was stuck, forever, in this hell and the worst part? It was her own family responsible for it.

It was Monday, and Chloe wished she could feel excited about the prospect of getting out of the basement, but she just felt hollow and empty. She'd been permitted a shower and been brought a change of clothes that she had been allowed to choose, pending her father's approval. Pulling on the oversized hoodie and the now loose fitting jeans, she picked up her backpack. The long sleeves and pants hid the residual bruises, and the little foundation that her father permitted her to wear hiding the bags under her eyes and the bruise on her cheek. Chloe had been in the basement for two weeks it turned out (but it had felt like months), and it had been explained away to the school by saying that she'd has the flu. No-one had batted an eyelid.

"Are you ready?" Her father asked, stood at the top of the basement stairs and looking down at Chloe who swallowed hard. She just nodded, heading shakily up the basement steps for the first time in two weeks, her chest pounding as she stepped into the kitchen, following her father at his pace. Her mother gave her a small smile as she walked past, her brother having already left for the school bus. Chloe and her father climbed into the car, Chloe in the back, and set off for school.

Chloe wished she could stop trembling, wished that she get out of the car and start running and never came back, but she was stuck, terrified, and alone. She was dreading today, dreading what she had to do. Now was the time she needed her friends the most, but in order to save herself she had to do it. She just hoped that they'd be easy to avoid, ghosting them seeming easier than having to talk to them. But as her father's car pulled up in front of the school, she could seem them, and they saw her.

"We have an agreement Chloe." Her father's words were monotone, but that didn't mean that they carried no threat.

"I know..." She whispered, "It's done."

"You know the consequences if not." Chloe got out of the car, not making eye contact with the group who were making the way over to her as she grabbed her bag. She walked towards the school, her friends bee-lining for her as she met them halfway between the car and the front entrance. Chloe could feel her father's eyes burning into her back as she stopped, and her chest tightened again.

"CHLOE! We missed you!" Jenny went to throw her arms around her friend, but Chloe stepped back, knowing that he was still watching, "Are you okay?" Jenny frowned; Chloe was never one to pull away from a hug.

"Yeah. Just tired. I need to go to the library, make sure I'm up to date." There was no emotion in Chloe's tone as she looked at the ground, shifting her bag strap uncomfortably.

"We'll come with you! I'm sure between us we could make sure you're caught up!" Jenny grinned.

"No. I'll be fine. You guys'll just distract me anyways." Chloe mumbled, stepping round them and walking into the school building, hoping that they wouldn't follow her. They didn't, just stood there looking bewildered and hurt. Chloe quickly made her way to the library and found a quiet corner to sink to the floor in, the panic attack that she had been suppressing bubbling over as she pulled her knees to her chest and hyperventilated as tears streamed down her cheeks. She allowed herself to fall apart for a few minutes, before trying to regain control of her breathing, wiping at her tears. She managed to get back in control just before the bell rang, heading for homeroom, thankful that she didn't share any classes with her friendship group this morning. It gave her time to think. Chloe tried to focus on her classes, but she was too distracted with the contract term she had to fulfill to think about how volcanoes were formed.

All too soon it was morning rec, and Chloe hesitated as she filed out of the classroom with everyone else. Where was she going to go? She'd normally head for the cafeteria to meet her friends, but that seemed like a bad idea, so she resolved instead to find a quiet area of the library to hunker down in, both now and at lunch (her mom had packed her a lunch on her father's instruction to keep her out of the canteen and away from 'unnecessary temptations'). It was easier this way. It's not like she could tell them why anyway; they wouldn't understand, and what's more they'd be disgusted by her, disgusted that she'd let it happen, that she hadn't put up more of a fight. Her plan was somewhat thrown off however by Jenny, who was waiting outside her class for her.

"Hey! You okay? You were a little weird earlier..." Jenny went to link her arm in Chloe's as she normally would, but again Chloe shied away.

"I'm fine. I need to do some work to catch up." Chloe tried to just walk away, but Jenny followed her confused as to why her best friend was acting like this.

"Chloe..." She reached out to gently grab the redhead's arm, causing Chloe to spin round, fear making her eyes wild as she flinched away, "Sorry... what's going on with you?"

"Nothing. I'm fine." Chloe shrugged her hand off and kept walking, Jenny easily keeping pace with her.

"Chloe, I'm not stupid okay? There's something wrong. Did your dad find out-" Chloe came to an abrupt stop, every muscle in her body tensing, as she spun on her heel again.

"What because this has to be all about you?" Chloe snapped, Jenny looking taking aback, "Maybe I'm just not interested in you, and you won't take a hint!" Tears sprung into Jenny's eyes as Chloe's words cut deep.

"You said..." Chloe felt awful, wanting nothing more than to hug Jenny and tell her that she didn't mean it, that none of this was her fault, that she had no other choice, but maybe breaking Jenny's heart was the only way to uphold her side of the agreement. She couldn't go back to that basement... not ever.

"Yeah well, I didn't mean it. I just told you what you wanted to hear." Every word made Chloe's heart break as she the impact they had on her friend, "I'm not like that. I was just messing with you. It's disgusting." With that, Chloe turned on her heel and quickly headed for the library, tears streaming down both her and Jenny's faces as the young sandy haired woman simply stood in the middle of the corridor and watched Chloe walk away, her heart shattered.

And so, Chloe spent the next five years very much alone. Jenny and the rest of her old friends had given her a wide birth since their argument outside her class, no more words exchanged, just hurt glances and uncomfortable run-ins in the hall. Her father, obviously, wanted her to remain in state for college to make sure her 'deviant' behaviour didn't return. Whilst Chloe had been upholding her end of the agreement, her father had been doing the same. It was five years of her own private conversion therapy, beatings, starvation periods, and of course the thing her father referred to as 'corrective intercourse' became the mainstays of her life. There was never a return to the basement, but her father came and went from her bedroom as he pleased, forbidding her from having a lock on her door or any kind of privacy. He never involved her brother again, but Luke's attitude towards her had changed. He was cold, distant, and harsh. It was like he hated her, like he blamed her for what had happened in the basement. And who could blame him? If she hadn't have been so damn stupid and kissed Jenny in her bedroom, where any of them could've seen it, then none of them would be in this hell hole she'd made.

The last few months had been particularly hellish, the slightest thing setting her father off be it not completing her chores fast enough, or if she looked at him the wrong way as he passed by her bedroom. It was after a particularly bad beating for the latter reason that her mother entered her room with the First Aid kit and a plan. Chloe was lay on the floor sobbing, a cut above her eye bleeding badly (as head wounds often do), her ribs bruised from where her father had kicked her as she lay there defenceless. Her mother gently helped her into a sitting position, using the alcohol wipes to clean the cut above her daughter's eye. Seeing the defeated dull hue in Chloe's eyes made her mother angry, and it made her feel even guiltier than she already did. This was her daughter. She could've done more to protect her, more importantly she should've done more... it was too late to change what had happened, but she would be damned if she was going to let Chloe suffer anymore.

"Chloe..." Her mother's voice was quiet, the door to her room was open a crack, forbidden from closing it completely, "You can't stay here much longer."

"Where am I supposed to go mom? Wherever I run too, you know he'll find me..." The terror in her voice broke her mother's heart. She could put up with it when he was just hurting her, but she wouldn't stand for him hurting her children.

"No. He's going to know exactly where you are, but he's not going to be able to stop you going." Chloe frowned, she didn't understand what her mother was getting at.

"How would that even work?" Her mother checked behind her to make sure that they were definitely alone, before sliding a small booklet out from underneath the First Aid box.


"Barden University?" Chloe looked at the prospectus in her hands, the green and gold colours of the layout seeming like some kind of homing beacon, a siren call away from all this madness.

"It's got a great liberal arts programme, the extra circulars look amazing, the campus is gorgeous... and it's in Atlanta."

"That's the other side of the country..." Chloe breathed, looking up at her mother, a faint glimmer of hope in her eyes.

"Your dad will never leave the state, you know how he is. Refuses to go anywhere that isn't Oregon, because the rest of the country is full of heathens." A small smile spread across Chloe's face at her mom's words. She was right, her father had said on multiple occasions that anywhere outside of Oregon was damned for eternity and they were lucky to live in God's own country.

"He'd never let me go out of state..."

"He couldn't stop you. You'd be eighteen, the plane ticket out there would be in your name, the dorm room would be in your name, all of it would be yours." Her mom held her hand tight, holding back tears as she saw the glint of hope in Chloe's eyes.

"But I'm not eighteen yet, the medical forms, the dorm applications, you need a parental signature... how do I apply without him knowing about it and putting an end to it... he'd see the letters..."

"Ah, but he wouldn't. I have a PO Box for stuff I don't want your dad to see. And anything you need signing I can do."

"Wait... what do you have in a PO Box?" Chloe asked, a soft frown on her face.

"Nosey! When your grandma died she left me all her savings, and the money from the sale of her estate. But she wanted me to have it as an escape route in case I ever needed it. I can use some of it to get you your plane ticket to Barden, pay the rent on your dorm room, that sort of thing."

"I can't ask you to do that mom..." Chloe's voice was scarcely a whisper. She didn't deserve this, didn't deserve someone that would love her this much.

"You're not asking me. I'm choosing to do that for you. Your grandma always wanted you to be your own woman, she'd want this for you."

"Mom..." Tears welled in Chloe's eyes as she looked back down a the brochure.

"You'd need a scholarship, I can't afford tuition fees. Do you think you can your GPA back up to a 4.0?" T he redhead spent most of her free time at school sequestered in the library so it would be easier for her to avoid everyone. The sheer exhaustion, and stress of not knowing what was coming next from her father was impacting on her grades, make no mistake, but GPA was surprisingly still good.

"It's at 3.5 now, as long as I ace the SATs, I think I should qualify..." Chloe flicked quickly through the prospectus to the section on scholarships, "Yeah, if I get a 1400 on the SATs and a 4.0 they'll give me a full ride."

"I know you can do this Chloe. We can get you out of here, I promise."

"Mom..." Chloe was crying softly, too scared to hope that this could ever be over, that she could ever get out of here.

"Chloe I am going to do everything I can so that you have a better life than this... than me. I didn't protect you before, but I will give my life for you if that's what it takes to get you out of here..."

Her mother pulled her into a tight hug, both of them crying at the horror of the situation that they were in, and at the desperation for a better life for Chloe. They pulled apart, and Chloe quietly slid the prospectus under her mattress, not wanting to risk her father coming across it. It was too dangerous to hope, things were too uncertain, too likely to go wrong, but maybe there was a tiny, minute chance that she could get away from all of this.

It was June 8th, Chloe's birthday. Her eighteenth birthday to be exact. It was no different to any other birthday that she'd had over the last six years (apparently 'heathens and deviants' didn't get birthday parties), no cake, no presents, no-one making a fuss. Except she didn't need all that, not this year. Her present had come earlier that year in a large thick envelope hidden in her mother's PO Box; a 1420 SAT score, a 3.7 GPA, an acceptance letter from Barden University, a dorm room assignment confirmation, a full ride scholarship for four years at Barden (they been especially impressed by her college essay on the idea of freedom being a state of mind), and a one way plane ticket for Atlanta in August for the early campus move-in date. It was actually happening. She was going to be free of him. All she had to do was tell him, which now she was eighteen and he couldn't legally do anything to do stop her, was fast approaching. Chloe's hands were trembling as she sat on her bed, waiting for her mom to come and get her. They were going to tell him together, Chloe's mother there to step in when Chloe's word faltered.

"You ready baby?" Chloe's head whipped up as her mother stood in the doorway.

"I guess..." Chloe hadn't slept in two days whilst she worried about this, expecting the worst from it. Her stomach was churning as she stood up, her mouth going dry as the panic attack set in. She swallowed hard, pushing it down so that she could function long enough to get this done.

They entered the living room together, her father sat reading his paper as he always did on a Saturday.

"What do you want?" He didn't look up from his paper, but he still had that air of menace to him that sent a chill down Chloe's back. She clenched and unclenched her fists several times to gear herself up, her mother putting a hand on the small of her back to reassure her.


"Spit it out."

Chloe swallowed hard, gathering  herself, before trying again, "I got into college, on a full ride scholarship."

Her father looked up from his paper, his steely glare fixed on his daughter who was shaking like a leaf but had a determined look on her face, "You're kidding right? You never applied to any colleges."

"Yes I did. I applied, and I got in, and they offered me a scholarship." Chloe clenched her fists so tight that her nails started to cut into her palms, but she kept her head up, her eyes not wavering from her father's. It was the biggest act of defiance that she had shown him and it was making her knees buckle, but she mustered all of her strength for this one act, this fury attack, this battle for her freedom.


"Barden University."

"That's not in Oregon."

"N-no." Chloe cursed silently as her voice faltered, "It's in Atlanta."

"Do you seriously think..." Her father set the paper down, getting to his feet, he loomed over the shaking redhead, standing over her for a few moments before back handing her hard across the face, Chloe hitting the ground hard, her lip bleeding, "I was going to let you go all the way to Georgia with no supervision?"

Chloe gingerly touched her lip, looking at the blood on her fingers and then back up at her father, "You can't stop me." Her voice shook, but her words were determined. "I'm eighteen now. It's not your decision anymore."

"Oh really, and how exactly do you plan to get there?" Her father raised his foot to kick her in the ribs, but he stopped as her mother chimed in.

"She already has a plane ticket and a dorm room Jack. It's a done deal." His head whipped round, advancing on his wife who did her best not to cower.

"What did you do Laura?" He was menacing, fury making him seem bigger than he already was.

"I got her out of her here. She deserves more. She deserves better." She cried out as he hit across the face, landing a swift kick to her ribs as her mother crumpled to her knees.

"You are condemning her to a life of sin and eternal  damnation!" He yelled, her whole body shaking as she looked down at the floor.

"At least she'd have a life..." She whispered, her husband towering over her.

"Fine. On your head be it." Her father stormed out, slamming the door shut behind him. Chloe got up and helped her mother to her feet, her mother pulling her into a tight hug as Chloe just stood there in shock.

"We... we did it..."

"You did it baby."

"But I'm leaving you here... how can I do that... he'll-"

"No." Chloe's mom cupped her face, looking her straight in the eye, "You are not allowed to think of me here. Be selfish Chloe, it's the only way you'll survive in this world."

Chloe nodded slightly, still in a state of disbelief. Was it finally over?

Stacie took a deep shuddering breath as she reached the end of Aubrey's letter, wiping at the tears that had been pouring down her face since she started reading, "Shit..." She whispered, setting it down. Aubrey said nothing, simply taking her hand and squeezing it, "SHIT."

"Pretty much..." Aubrey mumbled. There was a silence in the room as they both took it all in, Stacie completely shocked that her closet friend had been hiding something so huge from all of them all this time.

"How... how is she... how does she still function?" Stacie shook her head.

"I don't know. I genuinely don't know..." Aubrey signed softly, running her hand through her hair, a sad look on her face. She hated thinking about what Chloe had been through.

"I should have know..." Stacie could feel the tears start to flow down her cheeks again, "She's one of my closest friends, my family, how could I not have known?"

"Stace... she didn't tell anyone, how could you have possibly known any of this?"

"She told you..." Stacie fiddled with the edge of her sleeve, sniffling quietly, Aubrey taking her free hand and giving it a small reassuring squeeze.

"Chloe only told me because of what happened at Halloween, she was so out of it, it's a good job she came back to the dorm."

"What happened at Halloween?" Stacie frowned. She must have missed that.

"Oh... did I not get that far? Where did the letter end?" Aubrey shuffled the papers, trying to figure out where she'd gotten up too before Bella had started crying.

"Chloe managed to get away from Portland... are you telling me there's more?! How can there possibly be anything else?! She was beaten, starved, and imprisoned in a basement by her own asshole of a father, surely that's enough..."

"There's one more thing... it happened at Barden in our first year..." Aubrey paused. This was different to Stacie reading what she'd written down, this was her actively revealing Chloe's secrets. But she'd come this far, and she knew that unburdening herself of this was something that she needed to do. She stood up, grabbed two wine glasses from the sink end and a bottle of red, sitting opposite her wife and pouring them each a glass.

"Wow... this bad?" Stacie joked weakly, as Aubrey gave her a small smile.

"Yeah. This bad..."

Aubrey Posen was pleased to be at Barden University for the most part. She enjoyed the freedom that living away from her parents offered; she loved the classes that she had scheduled; she'd found her calling with her extra cirriculars (mainly an acapella singing group known as the Barden Bellas). Yes, there were many things that Aubrey enjoyed about Barden University, but her new roommate was not one of them. Chloe Beale was a party animal and a booze hound, so stereotypical of a freshman away from home for the first time that it would boring if it wasn't so annoying. They'd been living together for only a couple of months, but Aubrey was already considering putting in for a dorm transfer. She thought that she'd cool down after the first semester started, but if anything she'd gotten worse, out every night for hours on end, returning back to the dorm in the early hours of the morning, loudly, either drunk, high, or both. There would even be nights when she didn't come back to the dorm room at all. And now it was Halloween, one of the biggest college party nights of the academic year, and Aubrey was not looking forward to it. Not just for the drunken frat boys making inappropriate passes at her as she walked home from the library, or the freshman pranks that weren't funny at all, but for the complete and utter mess that her roommate was going to be when (or if) she returned home.

"You sure you don't wanna come? It'll be funnn!" Chloe asked, putting the finishing touches to her makeup in the mirror, a wide grin on her face.

"Deadly sure." Aubrey didn't look up from her books, having already seen far too much of the redhead, her so-called 'sexy cat' costume leaving little to the imagination. Aubrey wasn't slut-shaming, she was Chloe-shaming, getting a little tired of seeing more of her roommate than she'd probably even seen of herself.

"Aww, come on Aubreyyy!" Chloe spun Aubrey's chair round, a wide grin on her face leaning close. From this distance Aubrey could see that her pupils were dilated, and she rolled her own eyes in response.

"Really? You're already on something?" Aubrey sighed, as Chloe simply grinned.

"Jeez lighten up, it's Halloween!"

A knock sounded at the door, and Chloe skipped to it, a small blush spreading across her cheeks as her date for the evening stood in the doorway. Aubrey rolled her eyes again as she realised it wasn't one of the men that Chloe had invited to their dorm before. Aubrey doubted that she would have met as many freshman douche bags if Chloe hadn't been her roommate.

"Tom! You're costume looks awesome!" Aubrey scoffed quietly. Sure, the bed sheet he was wearing as some kind of toga was 'awesome'... he could have at least washed it first.

"Chloe you do not disappoint..." He was clearly a sleaze, but that was no different to the other men that she'd traipsed through their room, "Your roommate wanna come? There's plenty of guys there for her that like the uptight thing."

"As tempting as that sounds, I think I'll stay here..." Aubrey's tone was dripping with sarcasm and contempt.

"You sure, we can find you something to help you unwind, maybe get that stick out of your ass?"

"Tom!" Chloe lightly slapped his chest, pushing him out of the door and turning back to wink at her roommate, "Don't wait upppp!" She called, shutting the dorm door behind her. Aubrey sighed. She had no doubt that she'd be woken up by the redhead in the small hours of the morning.

Sure enough, there was loud banging at the door at four am. Aubrey woke up with a start, rolling her eyes. How did Chloe forget her keys? It was so inconsiderate. This was the last straw, tomorrow she was putting in for a dorm transfer. She dragged herself from her warm bed as the banging persisted, sounding urgent.

"Jeez, calm down, I'm coming, I'm coming." Aubrey muttered, rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she half stumbled to the door, turning the lock and opening the door. Illuminated by the dim lights of the dorm halls was a visibly shaking Chloe, mascara streaming down her cheeks, arms crossed across her chest.

"Hey... I'm s-sorry." She stammered, not looking Aubrey in the eye.

"Chloe, what happened?" Aubrey was suddenly wide awake, not expected to have opened the door to this.

"I-I-" Chloe couldn't get her words out, frozen to the spot. Aubrey gently put a hand on her arm, Chloe immediately flinching away, her eyes wild and this time not from whatever it was she had taken earlier.

"Chloe. Come inside." Aubrey's voice was calm and level, instinctively wanting to take care of the young woman that had been the source of so much annoyance. No of that mattered now. Chloe just shook, transfixed on the spot, clearly in shock, "I'm gonna put my arm around your waist and we're going to go inside to the shower okay?"

Chloe nodded slightly, letting Aubrey guide her inside. They entered the bathroom, Aubrey removing her arm and going to the stall to turn the shower, the sound of running water breaking the silence, Aubrey watching Chloe just stand there, seemingly in a trance. The blonde frowned softly, feeling guilty for being so judgemental earlier. There was something else going on here that the blonde had missed, she shouldn't have been so quick to judge.

"I'm gonna put you in the shower now. We're gonna wash the smell of cheap beer and sweat off you okay?" Aubrey gently walked Chloe backwards into the shower stall, not bothering to remove her costume first, her soul focus being the calming affects of the hot water and the cleansing impact it would hopefully have.

Chloe closed her eyes as the hot water cascaded down her face, Aubrey not really caring as it splashed onto her a little as she grabbed the sponge of the shelf, gently using it to wipe Chloe's makeup away. It took a few moments but finally the dam broke, Chloe's small sniffles turning into loud body shaking sobs, her knees buckling as Aubrey caught her, gently lowering her to floor, turning the shower off with one hand as sat next to the redhead on the sopping wet floor. She had other pyjamas, Chloe needed her to just be there. Chloe buried her face in her shoulder, hugging Aubrey tight as the blonde awkwardly put her arms around. Physical affection was not something that Aubrey Posen was comfortable with, but in that moment that wasn't important. They just sat there for what felt like hours, all the emotion that Chloe had been keeping pent up inside of her for god only knew how long flooding out., Aubrey holding her tighter in an attempt to soothe her.

Eventually, Chloe's sobs subsided, sitting back and resting her head on the bathroom wall as she slowed her breathing to normal. Aubrey said nothing, not wanting to rush Chloe or to accidentally make things worse. Whatever was going on with her party animal roommate was much more sinister than you could have imagined, and Aubrey was trying to quash the somewhat overwhelming feeling of guilt at having judged her so harshly and so quickly. Silence filled the room again, the blonde watching as Chloe simply stared at the ceiling, embarrassed and exhausted.

"I'm sorry..." She whispered eventually, her eyes never leaving the ceiling, tears slipping down her cheeks, "I've been a mess since I got here, you've had to put up with so much."

"It's fine. Actually it's not, but there's obviously something going on with you. I shouldn't have been so quick to judge." Aubrey gave her a small smile.

"It was only a matter of time wasn't it? Before something like this happened? It's my fault..."

"Chloe... what happened?" Aubrey frowned at Chloe's words. Sure, she was a wild child, but she'd also never hurt a fly. What could she possibly have done to deserve whatever it was that had shook her to the core?

Chloe scoffed, tears falling faster, the combination of cheap bear and the ecstasy she had taken earlier having lowered her inhibitions to the point where she'd tell Aubrey just about anything.


Tom had his arm around Chloe's shoulder as they walked into the fraternity house, Chloe feeling the buzz of the pill she'd taken just before she went out as they walked into the loud thumping music. The frat house was teaming with people, to the point where you couldn't turn around without bumping into three different people, all of which were in equally ridiculous and overtly sexual costumes as Chloe. It was what a stereotypical college party should look like, and that was okay with the redhead. She didn't remember very much of the night before things went wrong, it was a blur of booze, ecstasy highs, and making out in various corners of almost every room in the house. It was a few hours into the night before things went from hazy blur to crystal clear HD quality.

"Wanna go somewhere quieter?" Tom yelled over the music and the loud chatter of the other party goers, Chloe nodding gratefully as the loud music was starting to make her head pound. He led her upstairs by her hand, far fewer people crowding them, and the music quietening as there was as whole ceiling between them.

"That's better, I can hear myself think!" Chloe grinned. Tom raised an eyebrow a wicked grin on his face.

"Oh yeah... what're you thinking about?" Tom pulled her close, sliding his hands down her back onto her bum, squeezing it roughly. Chloe frowned pulling back a little.

"Not that." She tried to untangle herself her from his arms but he held onto her tightly, backing her into an unoccupied bedroom behind her.

"Oh come on Chloe..." He pushed her backwards so she fell onto the bed, landing awkwardly, "You dress up like that and you're telling me that you're not looking to put out?" He was standing over her in no time, Chloe moving to get up and push past him.

"Look, I just wanted to go to this party okay? Nothing more than that." Tom pushed her down again, more forceful this time, an angry glint in his eye that sent a shiver down Chloe's spine.

"You obviously want it Chloe, no-one dresses like this much of a slut if they aren't begging for it."

"No, Tom-" Chloe started before he smacked her across the face. Tears sprang into her eyes as his hand collided with her face, a small gasp of shock leaving her lips.

"Come on baby, just once." He started to tug at her underwear, Chloe trying to push him off before he grabbed her hands in one of his and pinned them above her head, his other hand continuing to pull down her underwear. The haunting familiarity of the situation hit Chloe like a ten tonne weight, her breath catching in her throat as she lived in both the past and the present in a single moment. She wanted to fight, to run, to do anything, but she couldn't. It was all too familiar, the stench of beer on his breath, the weight of him on top of her petite frame, the feeling of utter helplessness. She thought she'd come to Atlanta to escape this, not relive it.


Aubrey could feel tears begin to fall down her cheeks as she listened to Chloe recount her night, angry and sad at the same time. How dare he do that to her? What gave him the right?

"Chloe... it wasn't your fault." Aubrey moved so that she was sat next to Chloe, taking her hand a giving it a reassuring squeeze.

"He has a point. I was the one wearing barely anything, drunk out of my mind at his frat house... I shouldn't've-"

"Stop right there." Aubrey stopped Chloe before she could carry on, gently turning her roommate's head so that she was looking her in the eye, "This is not your fault, you did nothing to warrant this... you said no Chloe, you couldn't have been any clearer.

"I just froze..." Her voice was barely a whisper at this point, "I wanted to do something but I froze..."

"It's your body reacting to the situation. You couldn't control it if you wanted too." Aubrey wanted to reassure her roommate, make up for all the bitchiness that had preceded this exchange, but she didn't know how to fix it.

Chloe shook her head in response to what Aubrey had said, her knees pulled up to her chest, "No... it was like... like I was back home again. Like everything I was getting away from followed me here."

"Wait, what are you talking about?" Aubrey frowned, her chest pounding a little, she didn't even know why.

"My dad... he used to- to beat me, he tied me up in the basement at one point... starved me, y'know that sort of thing." Chloe may be drunk and still a little high, but she wasn't ready to get into life in Portland, and certainly not about the full story. It was too much to tell her right now, "Anyway, I guess when he slapped me across the face it sorta triggered something. I shouldn't have put myself in that position..."

Aubrey sniffed softly, finally understanding why her roommate had gone so wild since starting Barden, "Chloe... I'm so sorry... I've been so awful to you..."

Chloe shook her head again, a soft smile on her lips, "No. I was being an asshole, I was so wrapped up in running away from my feelings that I didn't stop and think about how my behaviour was affecting you."

Aubrey let her head rest on Chloe's shoulder, a soft sad smile on her face, "So I guess we're both assholes then?" She joked. Chloe let out a small laugh, resting her head on Aubrey's.

"Yeah I guess..." Chloe and Aubrey sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments, for the first since they'd met each other they were actually enjoying each other's company.

"You should see Student Health Chloe... you don't have to report it if you're not ready for that, but you should get yourself checked out..."

"Yeah maybe..."

"And you need a healthier way to channel your emotions... I'm part of this acappella group, it sounds lame but I promise it's so fun! I can talk to the captain and see about getting you an audition if you want? There was a girl that dropped out, so there's an open spot." Hearing Aubrey talk so passionately about the Bellas made Chloe smile.

"I haven't been in a singing group before... I was in the choir at church as a kid, but nothing since then..."

"You'd be great! You think I haven't heard you singing in the shower?" Chloe blushed a little.

"Oh... didn't realise you could hear me..." She laughed softly to negate some of the panic in her chest, pausing before saying "I haven't been allowed a friend in the longest time... I'd forgotten how great it was."

Aubrey had to fight hard to hold back the tears at the words that came out of Chloe's mouth, "Well... we'll have to show you exactly how great it is then."

Chloe simply smiled as Aubrey moved in closer, arms snaking around her waist and holding her tight as the redhead started to cry again, finally allowing herself to feel the emotions tied into getting away from her father. Aubrey just held her, not saying anything. No words were needed in that moment, Chloe realising that the uptight blonde roommate she had disliked was perhaps the only person that would ever be able to understand her; Aubrey realising that the wild child redhead wasn't just an off the rails freshman, she was someone who was fighting an incredibly difficult uphill battle. It was in this moment that their life long friendship was born, on the soaking wet bathroom floor of their freshman dorm room at Barden.

Stacie set her empty wine glass down, shaking her head as Aubrey finished the last part of the story, "Jesus Aubrey... how did I miss this?"

Aubrey took her hand, squeezing it tight, "You couldn't have known, she is so good at hiding it."

"It's been six years Bree, I should have noticed something... I could have helped her..." Stacie had always been fiercely protective of her friends, and the thought of not being able to help Chloe, that she had been going through all this alone, broke her heart.

"Listen to me. You are so sweet and kind and caring and loving, your loyalty to others is one of my favourite things about you. But this is not something you could have known or that you could have controlled. Chloe she- she keeps all of this in because I think she's afraid that people will think less of her."

"Less of her? If anything I'm in awe of her..." Stacie wiped at the tears on her face with her free hand, sighing softly, "You carried all this on your own for so long?"

Aubrey gave her a small smile, "Chloe needed me too. Besides it isn't my story to tell... although I just did..."

"You needed too offload baby... it was eating you up." It was proof of how shaken Stacie was that she didn't turn the comment into a joke.

"I guess..." Stacie took Aubrey's other hand, squeezing it tight.

"I won't breathe a word of it to anyone, I promise you. But this way you don't have to carry it alone..."

"Thank you. For all of this." Aubrey smiled. The two simply sat in silence, having known each other for so long now that they very rarely needed words to express how they felt.

Beca could feel her jaw aching, realising that she had been clenching it far too tight for the last hour or so. She went to take another swig from the whiskey bottle but found it was empty. She looked to Chloe who wasn't meeting her gaze, her eyes on the floor, sniffling as she played with the cuff of her sleeve. Beca gently lent forward, trying to keep the simmering rage inside her in check as she gently took Chloe's hand, the redhead finally looking at her for the first time since they'd sat down.

"I love you Chloe." Beca's voice was quiet as she stroked Chloe's knuckles with her thumb, a soft smile on her face, "I love you so much."

Chloe was speechless, tears spilling down her cheeks as she saw the look of warmth and love on Beca's face, "How?" She finally managed to whisper, "How could you after all this?"

"Because you're still the same woman I fell in love with..." Beca moved closer, gently and slowly pulling Chloe into her arms as the redhead started to sob, overwhelmed by Beca's reaction. Beca held her tight, stroking her hair, the angry knot in her stomach getting tighter and tighter as she thought about what Chloe's father had done to her. How dare someone treat Chloe like that, let alone her own father. It made her sick, but not at Chloe. God, never at Chloe. They just stayed on the floor of Chloe's childhood bedroom, Chloe sobbing in Beca's arms, over a decades worth of emotion pouring out as the redhead finally let go of the secrets that she'd been holding onto for so long.

It was a very long time before they broke apart, Chloe still shaking as she sat back, sniffing hard, wiping at her eyes with her hands. She rested against the bed, looking at Beca with wonder and bewilderment, "What in the world did I ever do to deserve a woman as amazing you in my life Beca Mitchell?" Beca smiled softly at her girlfriend, sniffing softly herself.

"I'm the lucky one Chlo... to be with someone as strong and resilient as you." Beca got to her feet, kissing the top of Chloe's head as she stretched out the aches in her limbs from being sat on the floor for so long, "Do you want me to go get you something to drink babe?" She had heard how hoarse Chloe's voice had been.

"A glass of water would be great... but I don't want to go down there. Not yet." Chloe sighed.

"I'll get it. I won't be long."

Beca slid the camp bed back to where it had been, stumbling a little as she adjusted to the impact the whiskey was having on her legs, before quietly slipping out of the bedroom. Chloe let her eyes flutter shut, suddenly exhausted. She couldn't believe how amazing Beca was, how she'd just taken all of this in and accepted her, how she still loved despite all of this. Aubrey was right. It was going to be okay.

Beca quietly walked down the stairs and into the kitchen, able to hear the TV blaring in the living room. To her relief, only Chloe's mom was in the kitchen, smiling softly at Beca as she entered the kitchen.

"Hi Beca! Can I get you something?" She smiled warmly, Beca able to see a new bruise forming on her lower arm as she pulled her sleeve down.

"I just wanted to get Chloe a glass of water if that's okay?" She asked, feeling the white hot rage in the pit of her stomach rise to the back of her throat, threatening to consume her. This man was a piece of shit...

"Of course." Chloe's mom reached into the cabinet above her head, pulling out a glass and filling it from the tap before passing it to Beca, "Do you guys need anything else? A sandwich or something?"

"You know the rules of this house Laura." Beca watched Chloe's mum flinch, the brunette's jaw tightening again, her anger causing her free hand to clench into a fist as she heard his voice from behind her, "If you are not here for meal times you do not eat."

Beca turned on her heel, intending to go back upstairs before her anger turned into blind rage and she did something she would later regret, but as she went to walk past Chloe's father he grabbed her arm, the tight grip halting in her tracks.

"I don't know how your parent's raised you to behave, but in this house we say thank you."

"You're gonna let go of me right now." Beca spat, the anger inside her threatening to boil over.

"Excuse me?" Chloe's father half laughed at the small brunette, his six foot three dwarfing her five foot two.

"You might be able to physically bully all the other people in your life, but not me. Now let. Go." Beca's teeth were gritted, the nearly two thirds of a bottle of whiskey giving her the confidence her common sensibilities would tell her was misguided. Chloe's father's eyes grew darker, his grip not loosening on her arm.

"You will thank my wife for the water." His tone was barely level as he tried to contain his own poorly controlled rage.

"I will." Beca agreed, "Once you let go." Her eyes were steely, cold, and unwavering. Chloe's father loosened his grip and Beca yanked her arm back, turning to face Chloe's mom, a soft smile on her face, "Thank you Mrs Beale, I appreciate this. I'm sorry you're husband's such a dickswab."

Beca was slammed against the wall, his hands quickly finding their way around her throat, the glass dropping from her hands as she struggled in his grasp, "Is that all you got?" Her voice was venomous, a tone that she hadn't heard herself use before, her eyes narrowing. It briefly crossed Beca's mind that this was amazingly not the first time she'd found herself in this position, but her attention quickly turned to clawing at his hands, trying to get him to let go as he cut off her oxygen, her head starting to swim, "What? You only feel big- when you're beating up a woman? Overcompensating are we?" She gasped as his grip got even tighter, more angry than desperate.

"Dad, let her go!" Chloe flew into the kitchen, ignoring the broken glass as she tried to pull her father off her girlfriend. She'd heard the glass shatter and gone to see what was happening, knowing that loud noises in this house were never a good thing. She tugged at one of her father's arms, her mother tugging at the other.

Eventually, he let go, Beca collapsing to the ground, coughing and choking as Chloe knelt down to check on her girlfriend. The redhead was trmbling, trying to ignore the fact that all of this was a little too familiar.

"Get her out of my house!" He yelled, eyes ablaze, advancing towards her again but this time Chloe stood up between them, turning to face her father as Beca spluttered, "Chloe Beale I will knock you to your ass if you don't move right now."

"Again?" Chloe's voice was shaking but her stance was strong, the alcohol that she'd had (although comparatively very little compared to Beca) spurring her on.

"You would defend her over your own family?" He spat.

"Over you? In a damn heartbeat." Her heart was in her throat, anxiety coursing through her veins, but standing strong. This had been years in the making.

"You have a choice right now Chloe. Her. Or your family. Because I'm telling you right now, you walk out that door again, you will never see any of us ever again."

Tears slipped down Chloe's cheeks as she looked to her mother, the older redhead knowing that there was only one choice for her daughter to make her. Her mother nodded slightly, indicating that it was okay. She had to move on.

"Beca. I choose Beca."

Beca looked up in shock, never quite believing for some reason that Chloe loved her this much, to pick her own family over her. She clumsily got to her feet, slipping her hand into Chloe's. She felt the redhead tense, but she never pulled away.

"Are you sure?" Beca asked. Chloe never turned around, just nodded.

The vein in the side of her father's head was pulsing furiously at his daughter's insubordination, "Then go get your bags and get out." He spat.

"Jack, it's eleven pm, they have nowhere to go... at least them stay until morning." Chloe's mother begged.

"You have ten minutes. I won't have your sinfulness damning us all." He stormed into the living room, Chloe knowing he was deadly serious. She quickly ran upstairs before Beca could move, going to collect her bags.

"I'm sorry..." She mumbled, having never meant to further the rift between Chloe and her family.

"She told you didn't she? What happened to her here." Chloe's mom smiled sadly.

"I never meant to... she's my whole world Mrs Beale, and to think that someone did that to her? I just..." Beca ran a hand through her hair, shaking some of the broken glass loose.

"You love her don't you?"

"More than anyone else I've ever met." Beca wiped at her tears as Chloe's mom pulled her into a tight hug.

"Look after her from me Beca. All I ever wanted was for her to be loved like this, I didn't care who it was, I just wanted this for her." She whispered.

"I promise." Beca mumbled hugging her back tightly as Chloe made her way back downstairs. They broke apart, Chloe running into her mother's outstretched arms, hugging tightly, as if the world depended on it.

"I'm sorry..." Chloe sobbed into her shoulder.

"No. Selfishness is survival remember?" Her mother held back her own tears, knowing that Chloe needed her to hold herself together right now.

"We have to go..." Chloe whispered, reluctantly pulling away.

"Where will you go?" Her mother's face was full of fear for the two of them alone, "All the hotels will be full-"

"We're going home, first flight I can get us on. It'll just be the airport until then." Chloe squeezed her hand tight, grabbing the bags and heading out of the door into the cold Portland night, Beca in tow. They walked quickly out onto the main road, Chloe pulling out her phone.

"Chloe, I'm sorry I-" Beca started, her throat and neck aching.

"It's fine." Chloe's tone was flat, not looking at Beca, putting the phone to her ear and calling for a cab. Once she hung up, the tears unable to be held back anymore, she dialled again.

"Chloe, what the hell?! I've been trying to get in touch with you all day!" Aubrey's voice was sleepy but filled with concern for her best friend.

"Bree..." Chloe was crying, trying to keep herself together long enough to communicate with her friend, Beca sheepishly shuffling her feet, pulling up the collar of her jacket as the cold seemed to seep all the way down to her bones.

"Chloe, what happened?" Aubrey was wide awake now, hearing the distress and the tears in Chloe's voice. Chloe took a few steps away from Beca, the brunette noticing but saying nothing, wrapping her arms around herself and keeping an eye out for the cab.

"I told her everything... she was so great about it, but she went downstairs to get me some water, and then I heard a crash... he had her by the throat against the wall Bree."

"Shit... is she okay?"

"Yeah... I think so. But he made me choose. Her or them..."

"Oh Chloe... I am so sorry..."

"I don't know what to do now Bree. He threw us out, there's nowhere else to go and our flight's not till the 26th-"

"Chloe, take a breath. Stacie's buying plane tickets for you guys now. Don't worry, I just told her that it was too stressful for you to be around your folks, she doesn't know anything." Aubrey hated lying to her, but it wasn't the time.

"Aubrey... I'll pay you guys back I promise." Chloe ran a hand through her hair.

"No you won't. It's your Christmas present. Okay, Stace is emailing you the details, but your flight is in five hours. Are you guys okay to wait at the airport until then?"

Chloe was quietly sobbing as Beca gently took the phone from her, "Aubrey? Chloe's crying but I'm here."

"Hey Beca." Aubrey could hear her words slurring slightly but bit her tongue. Not now. "Stacie's just sent you both an email with your tickets home, flight's at 4am back to New York. Don't even suggest paying us back. Just get home okay?"

"Yeah... sorry for waking you guys." Beca waved the cab down.

"Are you kidding? We have an infant with a cold, we were already up! You know everything now Beca... she chose you. Please look after her. Please."

"I will. I swear."

After arriving back in New York on the afternoon of Christmas Day, neither Beca nor Chloe was feeling very festive. They had ordered takeout yet eaten very little of it before falling asleep, but unlike their normal position of one of them in the other's arms, they were curled up on opposite sides of the bed. It wasn't Beca's choice, she wanted to do nothing more than to wrap Chloe in her arms and hold her tight so that she knew she was loved and that she was safe, but Chloe had pulled away, turning her back on Beca. They'd had a very brief conversation at the airport, but hadn't really spoken at all since.


Chloe handed Beca a scarf as she sat next to her on the cool steel benches in the airport, "Your throat's starting to bruise, we don't need people asking awkward questions."

Beca smiled softly, carefully wrapping it around her neck, "Yeah... thanks. Chloe I never meant to put you in that position."

"I know." Chloe didn't look at her, her eyes on the floor as she whispered softly in response.

"I just-"

"Beca, please. It's fine. I don't wanna talk about it anymore." Chloe snapped, her fingers tangled in her hair as she rested her head in them.

"Okay..." Beca mumbled, "I love you Chloe."

"I love you too."


A few weeks had passed, and it was now New Years Eve, Beca quietly relieved. Maybe this was the fresh start they needed after the horror show at Christmas. Normally, the Bellas would spend New Years altogether, but this year it hadn't worked out that way: Jessica and Ashley were in Seattle, Jessica having an early shift at 5am on New Years Day, so they were having to keep it lowkey; Emily was with Benji in Atlanta with his parents who had come to visit them; Flo was so busy with her company that she was working through the holiday; Lilly and Cynthia-Rose were both on assignment with their government agencies; Amy was in Australia with her mother; and Stacie and Aubrey were at Stacie's parents upstate, enjoying the quiet now that Bella had finally gotten over her cold and was sleeping through the night again. So, Beca and Chloe were spending it on their own, which would normally be a blessing in disguise, but after Portland? It was just going to be awkward and uncomfortable, and more than a little tense.

Chloe was out early, putting in a shift at the rescue clinic (which following Christmas was always depressingly busy), so Beca woke up alone, and not for the first time since Christmas. Chloe never said it, but Beca knew that she blamed her for what had happened in Portland and Beca was mad at herself for letting it happen the way it did. The bruises on her throat had thankfully faded, but not without a few days of having to to wear a turtle neck to work, and the small flask that went into her work bag was now am upgrade on her morning Irish coffee beforehand. It was too hard to get through the day without being a little buzzed, and with her dreams filled with images of Fergus Hobart and Jack Beale it was difficult to see the appeal of being completely sober.

Chloe came through the door with a large sigh, not just exhausted from the night terror that had returned. It had been a very long day of mistreated, malnourished, and abandoned animals, and after she'd seen three puppies need to be put down because of the way that they'd been abused (which frankly hit a little close to home), Chloe needed a hot shower and a long sleep. Beca looked up from the paperwork on the table that she'd brought home from the studio, a soft smile on her face.

"Rough day?"

"You know, it's days like this I wonder why I chose to become a vet..." Chloe shrugged off her jacket, hanging it on the hook by the door.

"Tell me about it... when did producing music get so admin heavy?" Beca gestured to the pile of paper in front of her.

"Can you just... not do that?" Chloe's tone was irritated as she slid of her shoes, Beca frowning slightly.

"Do what?"

"Turn it into how crappy your job is. I'm sorry they treat you like shit, but sometimes I've had a bad day too and I need to be able to talk about it without being made to feel like it doesn't matter." Chloe pulled the hair tie from her hair, shaking it lose perhaps a little more vigorously then was necessary.

"Where is this coming from? Of course it matters if you've had a bad day." Beca's frown deepening as she stood up from the table, going to try and comfort Chloe, halting in her tracks at the next words out of her girlfriends voice.

"Really? Because I can't remember the last time I told you how felt and you didn't turn it into being about you." Chloe spat, immediately regretful when she saw the look of hurt cross Beca's face. She hadn't meant to start a fight the minute she'd walked in the door, but lately Beca knew how to push all her buttons.

"Is this about Portland? Look, I said I was sorry, I don't know what else to do about it Chloe..." Beca had apologised for it, more than once, Chloe repeatedly insisting it was fine when it obviously wasn't.

"Oh for god's sake Beca, how many times do I have to tell you?! It's fine!" Chloe could feel herself getting angrier as her voice got louder. Why couldn't she just let it go?

"It's obviously not Chloe!" Beca yelled back, exasperated that she wouldn't just tell her how she felt about it, especially after it had seemed like she could tell her everything, "Because ever since we got back, you can barely look at me, you won't let me touch you, and every time we try and talk we end up yelling at each other!" Beca wasn't wrong.

"Fine! You want me to say it?!" Something in Chloe snapped, and she knew what she was about to say wasn't fair, but at this point she was too tired and too angry to care, "You're the reason it all went wrong! You could've not said anything, could've just thanked mom and come back upstairs, and none of it would've happened!"

Angry tears appeared in Beca's eyes as the words she thought she wanted Chloe to say cut deeper than she'd thought they would, "Oh I'm sorry, am I not allowed to be angry at the asshole that hurt the woman I love?!"

"That's not the point! You didn't have to do anything about it!" Chloe's fists clenched, "You running off at the mouth wasn't helpful, it never is! You remember me ending up with a concussion because you don't know when to shut up right?" Chloe regretted throwing that in Beca's face, especially as she saw the impact that her words hard.

Beca pursed her lips, nodding slightly, "Sure. Blame me for the actions of a deranged career criminal!" Her eyes were dark with rage, "Whilst you're at it, why not blame me for all of it! I'm sure you can find a way to pin your crappy childhood on me too!"

"Jesus Beca, you just don't get it do you?! This isn't about you!" Angry tears were pouring down Chloe's cheeks too, unable to believe that Beca had thrown that of all things at her, "I told you the thing that I don't tell anyone, that not even Aubrey knows the full details of, and you throw it in my face?!"

"Tell you what, go tell Aubrey everything then, because clearly I'm not worthy enough to be angry on your behalf!" Beca stormed past her, grabbing her jacket.

"Where the hell are you going?!" Chloe couldn't believe she was leaving in the middle of a fight.

"Out! It's New Years Eve, and one of us needs to remember to take the stick out of our ass every so often!" Beca grabbed her bag.

"Oh sure, go have a drink, that'll help! It'll be what, your fourth one of the day?!" Beca's excessive drinking since they'd returned from Portland hadn't escaped Chloe's attention, but this was not how she'd imagined having this conversation, "I can't keep doing this Beca!" The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. She hadn't meant them like that.

Beca paused, her hand on the door handle, tears pouring down her face, "Fine!" She spat, opening the door, not once turning around to look at the redhead, "Then don't!" She slammed the door shut behind her, leaving Chloe stood in the middle of their apartment, angry, hurt, and exhausted. Five minutes later, Chloe left the apartment too. If Beca could go out and drink her troubles away, then why couldn't she?

Beca was sat at the bar, on her fourth shot and second beer of the night, it having only been an hour since she'd gotten to the bar. She ran a hand through her hair, staring at the dirty bar as she tried to figure out how things had gone so wrong that this was were she was spending her New Year's Eve, alone and depressed. She downed the shot and indicated for another.

"Drinking alone on New Years? That's a little tragic..." A young woman with midnight black hair and deep brown eyes sat next to Beca, a wicked grin on her face. The brunette just rolled her eyes, taking another swig from her beer.

"Yeah. That's me. Tragic." Beca wasn't in the mood for conversation or company but the woman seemed determined.

"Oh come on, a good looking woman like you hasn't got somewhere better to be, with someone better?" She grinned.

"Doesn't look like it does it?" Beca mumbled, finishing her beer.

"Here then, let me get you another one of those." She gestured to the bartender, "I'm Katie."

"Beca." The brunette smiled gratefully as another beer was set in front of her, "And thanks."

"You're welcome." Katie nudged her softly.

"Look, you're sweet. But I have a girlfriend." Beca was firm. Even when they were fighting Beca still had her standards.

"Really? Then why are you here? Katie frowned.

"We had a fight. Shit happens. I'll go home soon, I just wanted to cool off."

"So she's waiting for you? That's sweet..." Katie was clearly being snide about it, but Beca was too drunk to care.

"Chloe's great, she's just going through a rough patch. We both are." God, why was she pouring her out to this stranger?

"What makes you think she's not out at some bar right now doing the same thing you are?" Katie raised an eyebrow, that wicked grin still on her face.

"I know Chloe, it's not her style."

Chloe walked into what was already a packed bar, slowly making her way through the crowd and to the bar, ordering a vodka tonic and finding a seat at a table in the corner, most people on the dance floor. She ran a hand through her hair, wishing she could've gone to Aubrey's but no-one would be home right now, so instead she would have to settle for drinking alone in the corner of a bar. She watched as people danced, enjoying seeing out the year with the people around them, Chloe wishing that she was doing the same. She downed the first vodka tonic quickly, a waitress promptly bring her another, and once that one was gone she got to her feet. She wasn't going to sulk in the corner whilst Beca was probably having a great time in a different bar. She was going to dance. It always made her feel better anyway.

Chloe walked into the throng of people as 'Hips Don't Lie' came over the speakers (Chloe hated to admit it but no song ever get her grooving like this one), her hips starting to move to the beat as she let herself get lost in the moment, her eyes closed, hands in her hair, inhibitions lowered from the alcohol. She felt a pair of hands rest on her hips, and normally she'd have pulled away, pushed them off, but right now she didn't care, Beca's words ringing in her ears. 'Fine! Then don't!' So she wouldn't. She didn't care. Chloe turned around to face the woman who was dancing with her, arms draped around her neck, breath hot and heavy as they moved in sync with each other. Their faces were mere inches from each other as they kept dancing, lost in the moment, until the stranger closed the gap, lips brushing against hers, the redhead momentarily letting herself lose control. Chloe stopped dancing and pulled away, suddenly aware of what she was doing .

"I'm sorry... I have to go..." She whispered, pushing past the girl as she grabbed her bag and hurried out of the door.

What the hell was she doing? Beca was the only one that she needed, and more importantly the only one that she wanted. God she was an idiot. None of it was Beca's fault, Chloe knew that. Beca couldn't be blamed for wanting to defend her, to want to stand up for her. This was a woman that had heard every sordid detail of Chloe's past and still loved her, still wanted to be with her. She needed to go home. It wasn't long before midnight, maybe Beca would be back at the apartment by now. She set off quickly in the direction of her apartment building, determined to fix things before the clock chimed midnight. A fresh start was what they needed.


The brunette stirred, having fallen asleep, four beers and seven shots later. She'd returned an hour before Chloe, drunk out of her mind, and disappointed not to have found the redhead waiting for her. She felt the bed shift next to her, her heart pounding as the memories of returning home came eluded her. 'Oh shit!' The raven haired woman next to her stirred as Beca realised they were both completely nude. 'No... no this isn't happening...' Beca was panicking, hearing Chloe shut the door.

"Becs you here?"

"Chlo..." Their eyes met, Chloe looking so happy for a second. Beca wanted to pause this moment here, to live in it before the world collapsed around her ears.

"Mmm... what's going on?" Katie's head lifted from Chloe's pillow, the redhead's jaw dropping, tears pouring down her face.

"Chloe I can explain..."

"Get her out of here, right now." Chloe's tone was calm and level, her jaw clenched. Beca scrambled to help Katie collect her clothes, wrapped in her sheet as she all but pushed her out of the door, the dark haired woman sheepish and clearly embarrassed. After she shut the door behind her, Beca took a deep breath, bracing herself.

"Chloe I-"

"What you can explain?! Are you shitting me?!" Chloe's eyes were ablaze with anger and hurt, "In our bed?!"

"My place was closer..." Beca winced, 'That's not helpful Beca!' she thought.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I should've called first to see if you'd invited a slut home to sleep with!" Chloe couldn't believe that Beca of all people would do this to her.

"Look, I was really drunk, and sad, and I thought you hated me... and she was right there buying me drinks!" Beca knew that it was hard to be taken seriously in nothing but a bed sheet, but right now it didn't really matter.

"Oh! That makes it okay then! I tell you what, that girl I kissed in the club I'll go bang her in the bathroom, but it's okay because I'm angry!"

"Wait you what?!" Beca's tone was both shocked and angry.

"Do not even dream of calling me out on this. Not after that." Chloe was so angry her whole body shook, "I felt so guilty at one pathetic little kiss in the moment, and you were at home, in our bed, screwing the first woman that looked at you! Do you even remember her name?!"

Beca stalled, racking her brain, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water.

"Oh my god..." Chloe laughed angrily, her head in her hands, "You can't even remember the name of the woman you threw our relationship away over."

"Don't say that." Beca couldn't help the tears that fell down her cheeks, "I know I fucked up here Chloe, but please... don't say that." She walked over to Chloe trying to take her hand, to hold her, anything that would let her know how much she loved her.

Chloe yanked her hand away shaking her head, "Of all the people in the world I expected to hurt me like this Beca, you were not one of them..." She pushed past the brunette who was sobbing now, following her to the door.

"Chloe, I'm so sorry please don't do this!" She went to grab her hand again, the redhead whipping around, her eyes angry and full of tears.

"We're done, Beca. It's over." Her tone was flat, defeated, and cut more deeply than anything else she'd yelled that night.

"Chloe, no, please..." Beca begged as Chloe opened the front door and slammed it shut behind her.

Beca dropped to her knees, sobbing, able to hear the cheers from her neighbours as midnight arrived. It was the New Year, and she'd ruined everything.

Chapter Text

Aubrey was jolted from her sleep by loud knocking at her front door, frowning as she looked at the time on her phone. '12:34... who the hell is that?' . The knocking at her door came again, urgent. Stacie stirred next to her, frowning deeply.

"If that's Mr Argyle from next door again complaining about Bella, I swear to god I'm gonna kill him..." She muttered, both of them getting out of bed, Stacie grabbing her old softball bat as they went to the front door.

"Babe, do we really need the bat?" Aubrey half joked, as Stacie followed behind her, grumpy at having been woken up so rudely.

"What if it's Mr Argyle?" She grumbled, "Or an axe murderer?"

"You think an axe murderer would knock first?" Aubrey stopped in her tracks, a quizzical and bemused look on her face as she turned to face her wife.

"Maybe he's a polite axe murderer?" Stacie shrugged, bat resting on one shoulder. Aubrey simply rolled her eyes as they reached the door opening it, an odd sense of deja vu washing over her as she saw who was on the other side of the door.

A tear stained Chloe stood in the dim light of their apartment hall, hands wringing around the strap of her bag, biting her lip as she looked up at her friends, "Sorry... I know it's late but- but-" She started to sob, Aubrey gently pulling her into her arms, stepping back a little so they were in the apartment, Stacie shutting the door. The tall brunette quietly set the bat down, feeling a little sheepish that she had come armed to the door when her friend was so clearly distressed.

"I'll make us some tea." She whispered to Aubrey, kissing her cheek as she held her best friend tight in her arms. Stacie walked over to the kettle and started making the tea, deciding to keep her distance from Chloe. She knew that the redhead didn't know that Aubrey had told her what happened, and she was afraid that if she was to stand too close, sit too close, be too close, that Chloe was going to know that she knew. Of course, it did not escape her that avoiding Chloe was also going to cause suspicion, but right now she was ignoring that fact.

"Chloe, sweetie, what happened?" Aubrey asked, holding a sobbing Chloe as tight as she could.

"I- Beca- some slut-" Chloe choked out, unable to form sentences because she was crying so hard.

"What?" Aubrey frowned, the redhead still sobbing. They stood there like that for a good five minutes as Chloe cried herself out, all the emotions that she'd been holding in on her way over to Aubrey and Stacie's apartment, unable to get a cab at this time on New Years she'd had to walk the twenty blocks from her apartment to theirs and not wanting to cry in public. She pulled away, sniffing, wiping at her eyes with her sleeves.

Aubrey gently guided her to the couch, getting her to sit down as Stacie handed them both a cup of tea, sitting in the armchair next to the couch where her wife and Chloe were sat. Chloe ran a hand through her hair, smiling gratefully as Aubrey passed her a tissue.

"Chloe, what's going on?" Aubrey was concerned for her friend, and even more concerned with the fact that was not the first time in the last two weeks that her friend had been so distraught.

"Beca- Beca and I are done." Chloe sniffed again, looking at her hands, a look of shock passing between Stacie and Aubrey, both of them sitting up straighter, neither of them expecting this.

"Wait, what?" Aubrey asked.

"We um... we had this huge fight, we both went to a bar to cool off, and I was dancing... I kissed this woman, it was an accident I swear, I was caught in the moment, but I felt SO bad about it!" Chloe was crying again, though it was more softly than a few moments ago, "So I went home, to apologise, for the fight, for the kiss, all of it, and Beca was... she was in bed with some... woman she'd met at the bar." Her last words were barely a whisper, but the reaction in her best friend was immediate.

Aubrey got up from the couch, heading straight for the door, Stacie quickly following her as Chloe sat motionless.

"Bree where are you going?" Stacie quickly followed after her, her wife quick and purposeful.

"Where do you think?" Aubrey spat, grabbing the softball bat as she went to open the door, "To teach Beca some Southern manners!"

Stacie stepped between her wife and the door, a hand on the door keeping it shut behind her, "Aubrey, it isn't going to help."

"Really?! Because I think a couple of swings and she'll have learnt a lesson." Aubrey's eyes were black with rage. After all this, after everything Chloe had told her, confided in her, trusted her with, she goes and pulls this shit?

"Not now. Not like this." Stacie's face was stern, thinly masking her own anger, "And certainly not you."

Aubrey opened her mouth to argue, and then paused, knowing her wife was right. She gently set the bat down, sighing and returning to the couch, pulling Chloe into a hug as she sat down, the redhead resting her head in her lap as she sniffled, Aubrey stroking her hair as they had done many times before at Barden whenever Chloe had a rough night. Stacie shook her head sadly, sitting back in the armchair, gently putting her hand on Chloe's leg to try and let her know she was there too.

"I'll go grab you a bag of clothes and stuff tomorrow. We have a spare room; you can crash with us until you figure things out." Stacie knew that her going to get some of Chloe's stuff was the least explosive of options before them. Chloe going would lead to another fight and likely destroy any chance of them reconciling their friendship, nevermind their romantic relationship; and sending Aubrey? Well, Stacie was going to make sure she hid the softball bat, that was for sure.

"Thank you..." Chloe whispered, letting her eyes flutter shut, so exhausted and sad that all she wanted to do was sleep. Sleep until all the sorrow and pain went away.

The next morning, Stacie grabbed her jacket and her bag, kissing Aubrey on her forehead as the blonde made a cup of coffee and warmed up some formula for Bella, Chloe asleep on their sofa where she'd nodded off last night. Neither of them saw any point in waking her to go to the guest bedroom, Stacie just placing a blanket over her carefully as Aubrey carefully eased herself from under Chloe's head.

"I'm gonna go get Chloe's stuff and have a word with Beca about all this." Stacie was admittedly a lot calmer than her wife about the situation, but there was a low simmering anger in her stomach at the thought of what Beca had done.

"You sure you don't wanna take the softball bat?" Aubrey raised an eyebrow, deadly serious. Stacie scoffed lightly, simply shaking her head in response. She quietly made her way out of the door so as not to wake the sleeping redhead.

A short cab ride and an elevator ride later Stacie was outside Beca's apartment, taking a deep breath before she knocked on the door, trying to keep her anger in check. The door almost flew off its hinges as Beca opened, her face falling as she saw Stacie stood there and not Chloe.

"Oh... I thought you were Chloe..." She mumbled, turning around and walking back into the apartment, not bothering to shut the door or even invite Stacie in. Stacie frowned, following Beca inside and closing the front door as she noticed the vodka bottle in the brunette's hand.

"Really? You've started drinking already?" Stacie asked, anger simmering a little closer to the surface.

"Started? I never stopped." Beca mumbled, running a hand through her hair as she flopped onto the sofa with a sigh. Since Chloe had left, she'd put on underwear and one of the redhead's t-shirts for comfort, "I take it Chloe's with you guys then? She hasn't been answering my texts or calls."

"Are you surprised?" Stacie raised an eyebrow, arms crossed over her chest, standing next to the sofa.

"She dropped me in it huh?" Beca took a large swig from the vodka bottle.

"You mean turned up at my front door at half midnight, sobbing, only to tell us that you brought home a woman from the bar after a huge fight? Yeah... she dropped you in it." Stacie's eyes narrowed, but as mad she was at the short brunette there was a pang of concern in her chest as she watched her friend take another swig from the bottle in her hand at nine in the morning.

"I'm sensing that you were the less hostile option then?" Beca sniffed, a sad smile on her face, a pitiful laugh on her lips.

"Well, Bree wanted to come over last night with my softball bat if that gives you any indication." Stacie sighed, moving around to the other side of the sofa next to Beca, her hands dropping to her sides as she leant forward, trying to get Beca to look her in the eye, "What is going on with you Beca?"

Beca shrugged, tears slipping down her cheeks, "We had a huge fight, I thought she hated me, I- I really fucked up Stacie..."

"Yeah. You really did." Stacie knew that now was not the time to pull punches, Beca needed the cold hard truth, "Look, I'm going to pack some of Chloe's stuff, is there a bag or something I could use?"

"Under the bed." Beca mumbled, not bothering to get up and help. Stacie sighed, kneeling down so that she could see under the bed, going to grab the bag but stopping as two objects caught her eye. Stacie grabbed them, getting up again and walking over to Beca and setting them down on the coffee table in front of her, returning to the bed as she packed up some of Chloe's clothes into the bag from under the bed.

"They were sat side by side under your bed." Stacie didn’t turn round, just continued packing, heading for the bathroom to get some of her toiletries.

Beca sniffed, sitting forward. On the table was the box with the engagement ring in, the one she was going to give to Chloe; next to it sat a wallet. Beca picked it up, looking at the I.D. inside. Katie Miller, the woman who'd helped her destroy her relationship with Chloe. Bitter tears formed in Beca's eyes as she tossed the wallet on the table, shaking her head, "Rub salt in the wound why don't you..." She mumbled.

"That's not what I'm trying to do Beca..." Stacie sighed, pausing her packing to turn and face her, "I'm just trying to keep you to see-"

"See what?" Beca snapped, getting to her feet, a little of the vodka splashing to the floor as she gestured her arms wildly, "That I fucked up the only good thing I had going on in my life for a girl who's name I didn't even remember until you showed me that wallet, who I don’t even remember even sleeping with? I think my empty apartment and you stood there packing Chloe’s shit into a bag has me seeing PLENTY."

"You didn't even know her name? Reallll classy Becs." Stacie's eyes flashed with anger, unable to quite believe that Beca had the nerve to get mad at her.

"Oh, don't you dare judge me for that! How many nameless guys and girls did you trot through our lives until you finally managed to score a pity date with Aubrey?" Beca spat, eyes bloodshot.

Stacie's jaw tightened, an angry smirk on her face as she turned back to the packing, determined to get out of the apartment before she said or did something she'd later regret, "You know what, for the sake of our friendship I'm gonna chalk that last comment up to the alcohol and lack of sleep."

"Look it's obvious that Chloe gets you guys in the divorce, so can you just hurry up and get the fuck out of my apartment please?" Beca in her sober state would have been mortified at what she'd just said, but drunk Beca was too angry and hurt to give a damn what people thought. It seemed like Stacie had just come to yell at her, and honestly, she wasn't in the mood to feel worse about this.

"Believe me, you're not exactly the person I want to be around right now either." Stacie zipped up the bag, turning to the short brunette, "You need to get a handle on your drinking Beca. Don't think I haven't noticed how much more you've been putting away lately. Why do you think I never leave you alone with Bella?" Her words were harsh, but they needed to be said, "You're in this position because of your drinking. Don't forget that."

"God, motherhood has turned you into such a self-righteous bitch." Stacie was walking away from Beca, determined not to let this argument go on any further, "You're no better than the rest of us Stacie, just because your daddy's got money to keep you in test tube kids and trophy wives!"

Stacie opened the door, barely resisting the urge to go back and punch Beca in the face, "Be careful Beca, you can't afford to keep pushing people away. Soon enough you'll hit rock bottom, and there'll be no-one there to pick you up." She warned, letting the door slam shut behind her and leaving Beca once again alone in the apartment.

The brunette let out a scream of agitation, throwing the vodka bottle against the wall next to the door, glass shattering everywhere as she let herself sink to the floor again, sobbing like a lost child.

Stacie was still shaking with anger when she returned to her home, unable to believe that Beca had said the things that she had. In that moment she hated her guts, wanted nothing more than to go back there and give her a piece of her mind. But, despite everything, she couldn't help but feel concerned for the short brunette. She was so broken, lashing out at the people in her life that loved her rather than admitting something was wrong. And then there was what Beca had said about not remembering having slept with the woman that had been in her bed when Chloe got home. Stacie couldn’t shake the chill in her spine at those words, something was definitely… off. Stacie didn't know how to help her, and as mad as she was at what Beca said, she was more worried that Beca had been so vulnerable and that someone had taken advantage of that.

Stacie sighed, opening the door, noticing that Chloe wasn't asleep on the sofa anymore, but her wife was sitting on the floor with her back against the sofa with their daughter on her lap, cooing at her quietly as they played with some of her soft toys. Stacie could feel her anger melting away at the sight of her favourite girls in such a beautiful moment of domestic bliss.

"Hey. Where's Chloe?" She asked, setting the bag down and joining them on the floor, one arm around her wife, the other gently stroking her daughter's hair.

"Work. I told her to phone in sick, but she insisted. I leant her some of my clothes." Aubrey smiled, letting her head rest on Stacie's shoulder, "How'd it go?"

"Great!" Stacie snorted, feeling the ball of anger well up inside her again, "Beca was still drinking, yes STILL, and god is she a mean drunk." She felt Aubrey stiffen against her, lifting her head up.

"What did she say?" Aubrey's eyes sparked with rage.

"Oh you know... you only went out with me on a pity date, called me a self-righteous bitch, said that dad was keeping me happy by spending his money on 'test tube babies and trophy wives' for me." Stacie sniffed as a few tears fell, knowing there was no point in lying to her wife.

"I'm gonna kill her." Aubrey's quiet rage was palpable, her hands shaking as she moved to put Bella on the floor, meaning what she'd said.

"No. No, you're not." Stacie tightened the grip around her wife's waist, kissing the pulsing vein in her temple, "The woman that said that shit to me? It wasn't Beca..."

"I don't care if it was the Dalai Lama! No-one gets to talk to you like that!" Aubrey was angrier at Beca than she had ever been at anyone in her whole life. It was bad enough that she had done what she did to Chloe after promising her that she would never hurt her, but to speak to Stacie the way that she had was the final straw.

"You're right. That's why I left." Stacie loved the fact that her wife wanted to protect her like this, "But I'm serious Aubrey, whoever it is in that apartment that spoke to me like that is not our Beca Mitchell. Her drinking has been out of control for a while now, I should've said something sooner but I just... I thought it was a one off, a bad day at work."

"Don't. Don't do that, don't make excuses for her." Aubrey frowned, watching Bella play with her toy lion, the one that Beca had bought her at the zoo in October.

"Aubrey, I am not doing that." She pulled the forgotten wallet out of her back pocket, having swiped it unnoticed from the coffee table at Beca's place, not wanting to leave her with any way to get in touch with the woman from the other night, "She didn't even remember the woman's name before I found this under her bed."

"Wait, what?" Aubrey's stomach dropped, the look of anger mellowing into concern, "Does she remember any of it?" She whispered.

Stacie shook her head, "I don't think so. I'm really worried about her Bree. Don't get me wrong I'm really mad at her for the way she spoke to me, and the things she said, but there's something really wrong here." Stacie took her hand in hers, both of them watching their daughter, “I need your lawyer head here for a moment Aubrey. Is this… is this cheating, or is it sexual assault?”

Aubrey paused, holding the wallet in her hands, opening it a glaring at the I.D. as if somehow the woman would know that she was doing it, "If Beca doesn't remember it, if she was that blackout drunk? She couldn’t consent, even if she wanted to. The keyword in law is ‘informed’ consent, and if Beca was that drunk, she was mentally incapacitated. It’s tricky to prove it when the victim is voluntarily intoxicated, but there’s a big legislature push to change that in New York, and if we were to prove her drinking was part of a larger issue, an illness, we might be able to negate that...” Aubrey paused, biting her lip as she closed her eyes, "God, why do I always do this?"

"Do what?" Stacie frowned, stroking her wife's hair.

"Get all judgemental and pissy without the full facts. I did it with Chloe in college, and now with Beca... I’m so mad at her for the way she spoke to you, but this? It's a cry for help..." Aubrey could feel guilt begin to gnaw at her, unsure what to do with her anger at this point. She wasn't sure what to do with the anger inside her, feeling that directing it at Beca was unfair.

"Baby... you expect too much of yourself sometimes. If I can't know everything about everyone, then neither can you." Stacie pressed her forehead against Aubrey's temple, reminding her of the conversation that they'd had a few weeks ago, "You're right. As mad as we are right now, Beca needs us to be on her side, because otherwise this is just going to get worse until she ends up really hurt. Or worse..."

“I feel awful…” Aubrey whispered, “Because I’m mad at her for getting herself into this position, for not asking for help before it went this far, what kind of person does that make me?”

“It makes you her friend…” Stacie tucked a lock of Aubrey’s hair behind her ear, “It makes you scared for her, and I am too. I am terrified of what could happen to her when she is out there like this, and I’m mad as hell that she can’t see that.”

“What do we do?” Aubrey asked, tears in her eyes, hating that this was the second time she had failed to protect her friend from something like this.

“Right now? We have to talk to them. Separately. Because there’s no way that Chloe can keep believing that Beca cheated on her… and Beca? She needs to know that this wasn’t her fault.” Stacie shook her head, “What a fucking mess…”

“Right… of course… I should probably talk to Chloe, she knows that I know about Portland, about Barden… it’d probably freak her out if she knew that I told you.” Aubrey wiped at her eyes, resting her head on Stacie’s shoulder, “Can we do it in a few minutes though? I just need a minute…” She mumbled, sniffing softly as she cried. Cried at the fact that Chloe was hurt so badly. Cried at the fact that Beca had talked to her wife the way that she had. Cried at how much Beca was clearly hurting.

Stacie said nothing, just wrapped her arms around her, Bella continuing to play with her soft toys, blissfully unaware of what was happening to the grownups in her life. After a few minutes, Aubrey lifted her head, stroking Bella’s head, smiling as she watched her play.

“I would give anything for life to be that simple again…” She laughed softly.

“Ugh, tell me about it!” Stacie laughed, kissing Bella’s head and then Aubrey’s, “Where’s my dinner? Who’s turn is it to change me? Where’s Ruth Bear-der Ginsburg? So simple...”

“Can I kill this Katie b-i-t-c-h? Just a little bit?” Aubrey’s eyes narrowed, careful to spell out the expletive as Bella was learning to talk and that was not a word she needed to be wandering around using.

“No… because you do not look good in orange, and I am far too gorgeous to be sat in a prison visiting room once a week… it’s not far on the other cons to tempt them with all of this.” Stacie wiggled her eyebrows, gesturing to her perfect figure.

“Okay…” Aubrey rolled her eyes, “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do nothing.”

"Oh, I know!" Stacie laughed lightly, “What’s the legal term for it, ‘plausible deniability’?”

Aubrey laughed, lifting her head to kiss Stacie’s cheek, “What would I be without you Stacie?”

“Uptight and sexually frustrated?” Stacie teased, as Aubrey pulled a face of mock outrage, "I should probably take Chloe's stuff into her room, make up the guest bed properly, treat her a little bit with a scented candle maybe. It's the least she deserves."

"You're so sweet baby." Aubrey grinned, planting a soft kiss on her lips.

"Don't you forget it." Stacie winked, getting to her feet, leaving her wife to play with their daughter again. Aubrey kissed her head, watching her blissfully play with her toys, happily unaware of any of the pain going on.

"Mommy needs to pay Auntie Beca's new friend a visit, doesn't she?" Aubrey cooed, "Give her the wallet back, and have a quiet little talk with her about boundaries and not sleeping with super drunk women who can't give their consent." Bella garbled in response, handing her mom the lion from Beca, the blonde smiling as her daughter seemed to understand, "Exactly. Mommy has to look after Auntie Beca, even if she won't look after herself."

Stacie had given Beca a couple of hours to calm down after their fight, hoping that she was at least a little more sober than she was earlier. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door of Beca’s apartment again. The door opened less enthusiastically this time, Beca stood in the doorway as she glared at Stacie.

“What, you wanna yell at me some more?” She sneered, her words slurring a little.

“No. We need to talk Becs.” Stacie’s tone was soft and concerned, “I promise, no more yelling, no more judgement okay? I just wanna talk to you.”

Beca frowned slightly, gesturing for Stacie to come in. The brunette walked past her petite friend and sat down on the sofa, patting the spot next to her for Beca to join her.

“Jeez who died?” Beca asked, seeing the serious look on Stacie’s face.

“Just sit down Beca.” Stacie raised an eyebrow as Beca huffed, flopping dramatically next to her friend, offering the bottle of whiskey that she’d found after Stacie had gone to her friend.

“You look like you could do with this.” She commented.

Stacie shook her head, “I’m okay, but thanks.” It was only just one in the afternoon, and Stacie wasn’t about to start enabling Beca’s drinking either.

“Suit yourself.” Beca shrugged, “So what do you need to talk about?”

“Last night… what exactly do you remember?” Stacie asked, hands in her lap as she smiled softly, sympathetically.

“Um… I remember the bar, drinking, Katie buying me a drink, and then another…” Beca frowned, rubbing her forehead with her free hand as if it would somehow bring back the memories that escaped her, “I… remember waking up next to her, Chloe coming in. I remember us fighting and… her leaving.” Beca sniffed, fearing the sadness inside her might consume her.

“But do you remember having sex with Katie, remember asking her to come back here, anything like that? Stacie asked, a soft concerned frown on her face.

“Well no… but I must have y’know? I definitely… came. So like, I had to have invited her here and wanted her to do stuff.” Beca frowned, shaking her head a little.

“No, Beca…” Stacie reached out and gently took the bottle of whiskey from Beca and took her hands in her hers, “The body responds to these things on auto-pilot, it’s biological, and when you’re drunk? It’s like flicking a switch. But that doesn’t mean that you wanted it, or that you were capable of agreeing to it.”

Beca shook her head, pulling her hands away and getting to her feet, “I am a grown woman, I am more than capable of agreeing to whatever I want.”

“Not when you were that drunk Beca. It’s called informed consent for a reason… it wasn’t your fault Becs.” Stacie watched Beca pace. This conversation was even harder than she’d thought it would be.

“Yes, yes it was. I cheated on Chloe. I made that decision.” Beca ran her hands through her hair.

“Beca, you didn’t cheat on Chloe. You were assaulted. This woman got you drunk and took advantage of you whilst you were vulnerable.” Stacie got off the sofa and walked over to her friend, gently catching her arm to stop her pacing.

“No…” Beca whispered, “That’s not what happened. You weren’t there, you don’t know…”

“Yes, I do.” Stacie sighed, pausing for a second, “Back at Barden, I was at a college party and this guy kept buying me drinks. I was so out of it, I would have agreed to anything and he knew it. So, he pulled me into a closet and started… started to feel me up. Thankfully, CR saw him pull me in there and pulled him out by his hair.” She chuckled a little, “She got me out of a really awful situation that I didn’t mean to be in. It could have been so much worse.”

“I didn’t know…” Beca mumbled.

“I know. No-one does, except CR and Aubrey. But I’m okay.” Stacie sniffed, “Beca… you-”

“No. No this was… this was different.” Beca shook her head, “I’m sorry that happened, but this is…”

“Becs…” Stacie cupped her face and lifted Beca’s head gently so she was looking at her. Stacie’s heart broke as she saw how bloodshot Beca’s eyes were, the dull sadness that betrayed her heart, “It wasn’t your fault.”

“I-” Beca started.

“It wasn’t your fault.” Stacie’s face conveyed nothing but concern and love.


“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was.” Beca pulled away, wiping at her nose with her sleeve, walking away from Stacie.

Stacie closed her eyes for a second, sighing softly. She didn’t want to do it like this, but it had to be done.

“If this happened to Chloe, what would you call it?” She turned to see Beca had stopped in her tracks, “If this happened to Chloe, exactly like this, would you say that she cheated? Or would you say that she’d been assaulted?”

Beca turned to face Stacie, starting to cry, softly at first before it turned into loud gulping sobs, her knees giving underneath as Stacie caught her, gently lowering them both to the floor, holding Beca tight against her chest, shushing her quietly, heartbroken at what a mess her friend’s life had become. There was to be said, so much more, and they would. But right now, Beca just needed to be held.

Chloe worked a six hour shift that day before going back to Stacie and Aubrey’s apartment. She’d had to turn around halfway home, automatically going back to the apartment she shared with Beca before remembering. Remembering what she’d done. She reached Aubrey’s front door and opened it, knowing that her best friend wouldn’t mind her just walking in. Aubrey smiled as she walked out of Bella’s room, baby monitor in hand having just put her daughter down for a nap, Stacie still with Beca.

“Hey Chlo, how was your day?” She asked, flipping the switch on the coffee machine and setting the baby monitor down.

“Long… I nearly went home by mistake.” Chloe scoffed, sniffing a little as she set her bag down, shrugging off her jacket.

“We need to talk.” Aubrey’s smile was warm as she pulled out one of the chairs at the table, setting a cup of coffee down in front of it, Chloe frowning as she sat down.

“What’s going on? Do you need me to go somewhere else? Cos you guys have Bella, and I know I’m intruding-” Chloe started, panic fluttering in her chest.

“No, no, sweetie that’s not it. If you need a place to stay, then of course you can stay here Chloe.” Aubrey put a hand on Chloe’s, “You know there’s always room for you in my home.”

Chloe smiled softly, “Then what’s going on Bree?”

“It’s about Beca…” Aubrey saw the look on Chloe’s face, the hurt and the betrayal as she squirmed uncomfortably.

“I don’t wanna talk about it right now… I’ve had a long day Aubrey, can we do this later?” Chloe went to stand up, but Aubrey’s hand tightened around hers gently.

“Please Chlo… I just want you to listen okay?” Aubrey’s voice was soft but firm.

“You are the last person I expected to take her side…” Chloe laughed softly.

“I’m not. Believe me, if she had cheated, Stacie hiding her softball bat under all of Bella’s old baby clothes would not stop me going round there with it.” Aubrey raised an eyebrow.

“What’d you mean if?” Chloe frowned, “Do you not believe me?!”

“Chloe, of course I do… but when Stacie went to pick up some of your stuff, some new information came up that we didn’t have. Beca… Beca doesn’t remember-” Aubrey was cut off.

“Her name? Yeah, I know.” Chloe narrowed her eyes, glowering at her coffee cup.

“It’s more than that. She doesn’t remember any of it.” Aubrey sighed softly.

“I don’t see what you’re getting at Aubrey… she still cheated on me, there was another woman in our bed when I got home.” Chloe shook her head, “It doesn’t change a damn thing.”

“Chloe… it really does. Beca was too drunk to consent to anything. It wasn’t sex Chlo, it was rape.” Aubrey’s tone was still soft, she wanted to break this to her friend in the easiest way possible, but she needed her to understand what had really happened.

“What… no. Beca went out and got super drunk, she… she made that decision.” Chloe shook her head, tears forming in her eyes.

“She did get drunk, but that doesn’t mean she agreed to anything else. She wasn’t capable of consenting to sleeping with this bitch. Beca was taken advantage of Chloe… it changes everything.” Aubrey stroked the back of Chloe’s hand as she watched her friend try and grapple with what had really happened.

“No, but… oh my god…” Chloe brought her free hand to her mouth, shaking slightly, “I think I’m gonna be sick…”

Aubrey swiftly helped Chloe to her feet, the pair of them making it to the kitchen sink just in time as the redhead heaved. Aubrey gently pulled her hair back out of the way, rubbing her back, hating the horror of the realisation that she had seen in Chloe’s eyes. Once Chloe had finished throwing up, she sunk to the kitchen floor, knees pulled up to her chest, arms crossed on the top of them. Aubrey sat next to her, letting the redhead rest her head on her shoulder, kissing her forehead softly as Chloe started to cry.

“How could I do this to her?” She sobbed, her whole-body wracking with the force of her tears.

“Chloe…” Aubrey frowned.

“I started a fight, I said some awful things, and I drove her out to a bar where she got so drunk… oh god it’s just like what happened with Tom… I did that to Beca.” Chloe was spiralling.

“No, no. This is not your fault Chloe. The only one to blame here is that bitch Katie. You cannot blame yourself for any of this.” Aubrey put her arm around her best friend, trying desperately to console her distraught friend.

“I left her… she was vulnerable, and someone took advantage of her, and I left her…” Chloe choked, burying her head in Aubrey’s shoulder as she sobbed heavily. Aubrey pulled her close, hugging her tightly as her friend fell apart.

“It’s not your fault, you didn’t know… you couldn’t have known.” Aubrey whispered into her hair over and over, trying to soothe Chloe in what was a desperately sad situation.

“I need to see her… I need to go home…” Chloe sniffed when her sobs subsided, sitting up straight, “I need- I need to fix this.”

“Chloe, you couldn’t have stopped this.” Aubrey whispered, tucking some of Chloe’s hair behind her ear.

“Beca needs me.” Chloe mumbled, getting to her feet, heading for the spare room and grabbing the bag of her things that Stacie had packed for her earlier.

“She does, of course she does, but Chlo…” Aubrey was on her feet, putting her hand on Chloe’s shoulder, “You need some time to process this. Stacie’s with her right now, you can take some time-”

“No. I have to go home.” Chloe pulled away from Aubrey, opening the door, “Thanks. For telling me I mean.” She sniffed, turning her head to smile softly at Aubrey.

“Call me yeah? Any time. Please.” Aubrey smiled back; her face contorted in concern.

Chloe just nodded, shutting the apartment door behind her. She hated herself for not seeing this, for not realising what had happened, for walking out on Beca when she’d been… when she was… when she needed her the most. She had to get home.

Katie Miller was startled by a knock at her apartment door. Frowning, she went to open it. She hadn't been expecting anyone. Opening the door, she found a young blonde woman standing there in a white shirt, cargo pants, and combat boots, a hard yet neutral expression on her face, a toddler balanced skilfully on her hip.

"Katie Miller?" She asked.

"Yeah... can I help you?" Katie grinned, leaning against the door frame, a grin on her face. She didn't normally get surprises at her door that were this good looking.

"I believe this is yours?" Aubrey reached into her pocket and pulled out the wallet, holding it up for her to see.

"Oh my god, thanks! I've been looking for that all day!" Katie reached out to take out, but Aubrey pulled it back sharply.

"Oh no. We're gonna have a little chat first." Aubrey smiled a thinly veiled threat at her.

"Okay... you wanna come in?" The raven-haired woman asked, confused.

"No. I'll keep it short, don't want to tax you too hard." Aubrey sneered, "You know my friend Beca?"

"Oh sure, the little brunette with all the ear piercings!" Katie grinned, oblivious to where Aubrey was going with this.

"Hm, yeah, that's the one..." Aubrey gave a short laugh, her piercing blue eyes not once moving from Katie's brown ones, "The one you slept with in her girlfriend's bed whilst she was completely intoxicated."

"Okay, hey, I had no idea she was going to come back and find us!" Katie held up her hands defensively, a small grin on her face, "She was the one that invited me to her place."

"Did you know that when someone wakes up not being able to remember the night, or even the hour before, implies she was incapable of consent, which makes guilty of rape in the third. It's a class E felony, up to four years in prison." Aubrey's smile was unwavering and threatening as Katie's eyes widened in shock.

"Whoa hey, if that bitch is pressing charges, you should know that she was practically begging for it, she was all over me!" The panic in Katie's voice gave Aubrey a small sense of satisfaction.

"I'm no cop but even I know this sorta of case is depressingly hard to win. But I am a bar certified lawyer as of two months ago, so if 'that bitch'..." Aubrey used her free hand to cover Bella’s ears as she quoted Katie back to herself, "Does ever decide to press a civil case against you, you bet your ass I'm gonna sue you so hard you won't be able to afford to live in a cardboard box."

"What do you want exactly?" Katie's eyes narrowed, not appreciating being threatened outside her own home.

"I want you to think twice about taking advantage of a girl that's blind drunk, and then taking her back to her place and screwing her. I want you to think twice about screwing someone who's already in a relationship. And I want you to stay the hell away from Beca, she deserves way better than you." Aubrey's face was steely and cold, her jaw set.

"Fine. Can I have my wallet back now?" The tension between the two women was palpable.

“The only reason I haven’t got a cop round here, the only reason you’re not in handcuffs is because Beca couldn’t survive a rape kit right now.” Aubrey’s eyes were black with rage as she leant in close, handing it to her, holding tight as she went to take it from her, "If you ever come near her again..." The blonde's voice was low as she let the well-hidden Southern twang back into it for just a moment, "I'm gonna hog-tie you faster than you can say 'informed consent'..." She let go of the wallet, turning on her heel and heading down the corridor, out of the apartment block. Katie was left standing in her doorway, confused, scared, and if she was being honest, a little turned on

Chloe took a cab back to her apartment, her stomach knotting with guilt. How could she not have seen any of this? How could she have put Beca through this? She knew how if felt to be alone, to be completely adrift and lost, to be taken advantage of like this, and she had abandoned her when Beca needed her the most. She’d never forgive herself for this, and she knew Beca wouldn’t either.

Once she reached her apartment, she let herself in, Beca’s head whipping up in the direction of the open door, her and Stacie sat at the table in the kitchen.

“Chloe…” Beca whispered, tears in her eyes as Chloe just stood in the doorway, hand tightly gripping the handles on the bag that contained her belongings.

Stacie could sense that the two of them needed to talk, alone. She quietly got to her feet, giving Beca’s hand a squeeze as she smiled at her, “I’ll call you later, okay?”

Beca nodded, her eyes now on her hands as Stacie went to leave the apartment, stopping as she reached Chloe and putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder before leaving, quietly shutting the door. The two of them were just frozen to the spot for a moment, neither one of them looking at the other, the silence uncomfortable.

“I’m so happy to see you.” Beca sighed, a small smile on her lips.

“You too.” Chloe forced a smile back, still gripping tightly to the bag.

“Chloe I-” Beca started, getting up from the table.

“I need to talk first Beca. Please.” Chloe shook her head, setting the bag down. Beca nodded, watching as Chloe started to pace a little, “This has to stop. Us hurting each other like this.”

Beca swallowed hard, wrapping her arms around herself, feeling a sudden chill.

“Ever since we came back from the Cayman Islands, things have been so hard. Too hard. We’ve been struggling through, pretending that nothing has changed, but it has. We’re not in college anymore Beca… although I wish we were.” Chloe had a sad smile on her face as she ran a hand through her hair.

“Beca I love you so much. So much that it hurts, it physically hurts to see you like this. I need you more than I need to breathe, you are my rock.” Chloe was crying as she looked at Beca, unable to believe the words that were about to come out of her mouth.

“But… I can’t be your girlfriend right now Beca. It’s too painful. We’re not in a good place, either of us, and we’re just hurting each other. I can’t do that to you anymore.” Chloe couldn’t stop the tears pouring down her face as she saw the hurt in Beca’s face.

“I’m so sorry. It’s too much. I need you, as my roommate, as my best friend, as everything you were before we left for the USO Tour. But anything else? It’s too much.” Chloe sank onto a kitchen chair, head in her hands as Beca just stood frozen to the spot.

“S-so you wanna go back, pretend none of this, none of us ever happened?” Beca asked, voice quiet as she looked at her feet.

“I need you as my best friend more than I need you as my girlfriend right now.” Chloe whispered.

Beca nodded, “How long? This hiatus, how long is it going to be?”

“A year?” Chloe looked up from her hands, tears pouring fast as she could feel her heart breaking, “Enough time to try and figure our stuff out?”

Beca scoffed a little, turning her back to Chloe as tears poured hot and fast down her cheeks. There was an awful, suffocating silence for a few minutes, before Beca found her composure.

“Okay…” Beca whispered, “If that’s what you need… then we’ll do that. Roommates. Friends. But nothing more.”

“Beca I-” Chloe started, getting to her feet.

“My turn Chloe.” Beca smiled sadly as she turned to face her, “One year. One year and we’ll revisit this, we’ll see if you feel like we can do this again. But if you don’t… then tell me. Even if you realise before the year is up, if it’s a month from now, if it’s a week, if it’s tomorrow, that you can’t go back to this, then tell me. Because I can’t carry on with what-ifs and maybes. It’s going to hurt me far more if you pretend we can go back than if you simply break it off now.”

Chloe said nothing as Beca looked at her feet.

“I have never loved anyone in the same way and as much as I have loved you. You are my whole world. But knowing that us being together is hurting you, breaks my heart. So, let’s take a year. A year of being roommates, of being friends. Because I’ll take you in anyway you’ll let me have you Chloe Beale.”

“You can still hold me…” Chloe cried softly, a small smile on her lips, “Still put your head in my lap whilst we watch a movie. Still have a hug when you’ve had a bad day.”

Beca shook her head, “Great. I can go back to being that frustrated college student, too afraid to touch you in case you figure out how I’m feeling. Love you from afar whilst never being able to get too close. I can’t wait.”

“I’m sorry Becs…” Chloe was sick of crying at this point, but she couldn’t stop no matter how much she wanted to, “I am so sorry…” There was nothing else she could say.

“I know.” Beca forced a smile, “I know you are. Just… just give me some time okay? To go completely back to how we used to be.”

Chloe just nodded, tucking her hair behind her ears.

“I’ll take the sofa bed.” Beca mumbled, “I’m the smallest of the two of us, it makes sense.”

“Okay.” Chloe’s voice was small, trying to hide the hurt she felt at the thought of them not sharing a bed anymore.

“Okay.” Beca mumbled back. This was the worst day of her life. This was somehow almost worse losing Chloe altogether.

Stacie had arrived home to find the apartment empty, a note from her wife that read: ‘Plausible deniability! Bella and I will be back in an hour. We love you x’ on the kitchen table. A small smile crept onto Stacie’s face as she pulled a bottle of wine from the fridge. She hated that this was the same thing that Beca was doing, but right now she needed a glass of wine, and unlike Beca, she had waited until five. Sighing, she ran a hand through her hair. What a hell of a way to start the New Year.

“Hey… we’re home!” Aubrey called, smiling as she saw the love of her life in the kitchen. Bella grinned to, balanced on Aubrey’s hip.

“Mama!” She cried, stretching out her hands towards her other mother as both women looked at each other, happy tears in their eyes.

“Did she… did she just say her first word?” Stacie asked, tearing up as she set the glass of wine down and rushed to her daughter to kiss her head.

“You are so clever Bella!” Aubrey grinned as she hugged her close, both women crying a little as Bella was enveloped in kisses and hugs.

“Mama.” Bella mumbled happily as the two women that loved her the most held her close.

“You’re so clever baby.” Stacie kissed the top of her head, unable to keep the wide grin off her face, “You are so going to MIT…”

Aubrey simply giggled, enjoying a moment of domestic bliss with her family, clinging to the precious moment that they were having. Eventually they broke apart, Stacie wiping the tears from her eyes as she smiled at the two most beautiful women in her life.

“I am the luckiest woman in the whole world.” Stacie smiled, tearing up a little.

“So are we.” Aubrey grinned, planting a soft kiss on Stacie’s lips, “I’m gonna go and put clever clogs in her highchair so she can have dinner.”

“Okay.” Stacie grinned, watching as her wife settled their daughter into her high-chair, pulling a jar of mashed carrots from the fridge and a soft plastic spoon, sitting next to Bella and playing the airplane game to get her to eat it. Stacie couldn’t believe that her life had ended up here; living in a gorgeous apartment in New York with her beautiful, intelligent wife, her dream job, and a gorgeous daughter who was their whole world.

Once Bella had eaten her dinner and had a bath, the two women put her to bed. Quietly closing the door, Aubrey walked over to the radio, turning it on and pulling Stacie into her arms as the two of them swayed in time to ‘Drops of Jupiter’ . Aubrey knew that Stacie had had a difficult conversation with Beca, knew what she would have brought up without even having to talk to her about it. They were going to talk about it, but first a moment of quiet bliss, reminiscent of their college days.

“You are the love of my life.” Aubrey mumbled, looking up at her wife with a grin on her face, her eyes full of love, “I am so proud of you, every day I wake up and I’m blown away at how amazing you are, at your job, at being my wife, at being a mother.”

Stacie leant down and kissed her deeply, the two of them swaying in time to the music, “What a way to start the New Year huh?” Stacie sighed, pulling back from the kiss and resting her forehead against Aubrey’s.

“I know… are you okay?” Aubrey asked, her arms around Stacie’s waist.

“Yeah… I’m okay.” Stacie smiled, “I told Beca what happened freshman year. I know it’s not the same thing, but-”

“Stop right there.” Aubrey gently pulled away, a hand cupping Stacie’s cheek, a serious look on her face, “Don’t you dare do that. Don’t diminish your own experience like that. It was awful, and if I’d have been there I would have done far more than just pull him out of there by his hair…”

“CR did pull out a huge chunk of his hair if that makes you feel better?” Stacie offered with a grin.

“It does.” Aubrey nodded with a wide grin, “Are you sure you’re okay though?”

“Yes. I promise. Just promise me that we’ll never get to the stage that Beca and Chloe are at? That we’ll always talk about our problems, no matter what they are?” Stacie frowned slightly. She wasn’t insulting her friends, but she could see how their relationship was falling apart.

“I promise.” Aubrey nodded, “There is nothing so big that we cannot overcome it.”

They carried on dancing slowly to the music, completely content in each other’s arms.

Beca woke up that morning on the sofa bed, back aching from how uncomfortable it was, not really quite remembering how she ended up was normal for her these days though, her black out drinking seeming to be the only thing helping her sleep in the last month and a half since Chloe had called time out on their relationship, her bed too empty and her nightmares too vivid to do it sober. Her drinking was escalating during her day too, a hip flask in her bag at all times, whiskey in her morning coffee. 'It isn't a problem.' she kept telling herself , 'Everyone needs a little pick me up sometimes. Stacie was wrong, I'm fine.'

Emily had come to visit one afternoon, Chloe working double shifts and long shifts to make sure she was out of the apartment as much as possible whilst Beca was struggling with her denial. The youngest Bella had turned up with two pints of ice cream and a bottle of white wine (in her defence she didn't know that alcohol was such an issue for Beca at the moment) to drown the brunette's sorrows in. She knocked on the door, a little taken aback when Beca opened the door, not used to seeing her former captain in Chloe's oversized Barden hoodie (which was even more oversized on Beca) and nothing else.

"Legacy? What're you doing here?" She asked, frowning slightly, "Don't you have college?"

"I'm in New York with the Barden Bellas, it's where they're holding the ICCA semis this year. I heard about you and Chlo and I figured you could do with some company and cheering up, so I brought the two key ingredients to wallowing in a break-up: ice cream and booze!" Emily's infectious smile was too powerful for even Beca to resist as she grinned in response and let her in, going over to the cupboard and taking out two wine glasses. Normally she wouldn't bother and just drink straight from the bottle, but normally she didn't share it with anyone either.

"It’s not a breakup, we’re just… on pause. But it's really sweet of you to come." Beca suddenly remembered that she wasn't wearing pants and blushed slightly, "Oh shit... I should put some pants on, sorry."

"Oh hey, it's fine. We shared the Bella house for a year, I've seen far worse from you guys!" Emily chuckled, putting one of the pints of ice cream in the freezer and miraculously finding two spoons to eat the other with (Beca hadn't exactly been keeping on top of the place and Chloe was at work all the time).

"Still..." Beca pulled a pair of relatively clean sweats on, collapsing dramatically on the couch next to her tall friend, "It's polite to wear pants when a friend comes to cheer you up."

"True." Emily giggled, opening the tub and handing Beca a spoon.

"Cookie dough? Maybe I should've dated you instead..." She mumbled, as Emily gave her a sad smile.

"What happened with you guys? You were so perfect together... you've basically been aca-wives since I've known you." Emily tucked into the ice cream as Beca shrugged softly.

"Y'know... sometimes people need to take a step back, evaluate what they want." Beca was in no hurry to reveal the truth to Emily.

"I know but, you and Chloe-" Emily started.

"Look, are you here to cheer me up or are you here to stick your nose in?" Beca snapped, cutting Emily off as she looked at her friend, a mixture of surprise and hurt in her face.

"Yeah, sorry you're right. Wanna watch a trashy movie?" Emily quickly changed the topic, sensing that she wasn't helping by asking the questions she was. Beca just nodded, allowing Legacy to grab the tv remote and turn on a cheesy comedy movie. The young Bella frowned, not used to seeing Beca so... vulnerable. She'd noticed the smell of whiskey on her breath when she'd greeted her at the door, and the four empty beer cans by the side of the sink when she was looking for spoons. Maybe the bottle of wine wasn't a good idea after all.

"Beca are you okay? You seem a little... off." Emily asked at the halfway point in the movie, the silence between the two of them unsettling her. Beca was the type to complain through movies and narrate unnecessarily, but she was just silent, sipping her wine, having four glasses to Emily's one.

"What? Yeah, I'm fine..."

But she wasn't fine, and people were starting to notice. Not just Emily, Chloe and Stacie, but her colleagues too. Beca's work was slipping, she was struggling to maintain a mask of sobriety around the office, and more than one person had caught the smell of booze on her breath as they passed by her. So, when Beca entered the office three weeks later (three weeks of dodging calls from the Bellas who were trying to figure out what had happened, Chloe telling them that they just needed to figure some stuff out), wearing large sunglasses (despite the fact that it was only March), her coffee flask in her hand, her boss was waiting for her.

"Beca." She smiled, "Can we have a chat?" She gestured for Beca to follow her to her office, the short brunette sighing softly as she trudged after her boss, sitting down in one of the chairs opposite her desk as they reached her bosses office. Her boss seated herself on the opposite side of the desk, leaning forward, a soft smile on her face.

"How are you Beca?" She asked, concern on her face.

"I'm fine." Beca shrugged, "A little tired..."

"Beca, we've had a couple of complaints." Her boss’ brow furrowed a little, "Of you not doing your job properly, of you smelling like whiskey... I'm worried about you."

The brunette squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. She needed this job, but she was also not in the mood to have her life put under the magnifying glass by a woman who didn't really know her, "Look, I have a bad day every so often, maybe went a little too hard at the drinking the night before, but I'm fine, really."

"Beca, it's not just been a few bad days, it's been a few months of various people saying the same thing. Everyone's really concerned about you." Beca's bosses frown deepened as she looked at the defensive brunette.

"Whatever, it's fine. I'm okay. I'll get on top of it." Beca mumbled, embarrassed that people had noticed that she was falling apart (although she wouldn't admit that that was what was happening, even to herself).

"I want you to use your vacation time, take a break. You've got six weeks of time stored up, use that to get your head on right." Her boss was firm, but the caring look on her face never faltered.

"You're suspending me?" Beca asked, genuinely shocked.

"No. If I was suspending you, you wouldn't be being paid. I don't want to have to fire you Beca, your resume is very impressive, and you came with glowing recommendations from B.F.D., but you need to pull yourself together. You have the potential to be one of the greatest music producers on the planet, but not if you don't fix whatever it is that's going on with you."

"You know what? Screw this. I'm not taking time off just so you can treat me like some glorified intern when I come back. I quit." Beca got to her feet, shaking her head. Sure, she needed the money for food and stuff, but with her rent still paid up until mid-September thanks to Amy and a fair chunk of money still in her savings account she'd be alright for a little while.


"No, I'm done, I don't need this judgemental shit!" Beca walked out of the office, her boss a little dumbfounded as to how the conversation had ended up panning out. Beca walked straight out of the recording studio, not even bothering to clear out her desk. There was nothing important there anyway, just a few photos of her and Chloe, and she didn't need any more reminders of what she'd lost. Stepping into the cool spring day, she took a deep breath before heading to the subway to go home. Sure, she needed to look for a new job, but right now she was going to go home, have a few beers, and celebrate never having to go back to work there again.

Beca didn't just celebrate that night, she spent the next two weeks on a drunken bender, out every night, not wanting to be sober long enough to regret her decision to quit. So, she partied like it was her first night in New York every night, getting herself into more than a few sticky situations with drunken idiots, but by some miracle always getting home in one piece. So she continued, enjoying the freedom of no responsibilities (or rather responsibilities she was avoiding), and hanging out with sleazy guys and overly drunk girls.

One night, in a particularly filthy bar, Beca was five beers deep, a gorgeous woman at the bar buying her another as she went over the patch of floor space they were using as a makeshift dance floor, showing off the dance moves she'd learned from her years at Barden, and of living with Chloe. She was pressed against a beautiful woman when the pain started in her head, causing her to stop dancing as she clutched her head, squeezing her eyes shut. She steadied herself against the edge of the bar as the room began to spin. She was gonna puke. Beca rushed to the bathroom, barely making it as she heaved into the toilet basin, her head burning and throbbing as she threw up more than she'd consumed that day. This wasn't too-much-to-drink kind of vomiting; this was something else. Had she been spiked?

"Shit!" An intense stabbing pain started in Beca's lower back, causing the young woman to recoil in pain, panic spreading through her chest as her grip on consciousness began to slip, hearing someone enter the bathroom, "Help..." she whispered, "Help, please..."

And then everything went black.

Beca moaned softly as her head thumped like a drum, her eyelids heavy as she went to open them. Squinting against the harsh light that filled her eyes, Beca tried to look around, figure out where she was.

"Hey Beca..." A hand took her own that was laid by her side and gave it a soft squeeze.

"Aubrey?" Beca's eyes opened fully, the familiar sight of her former captain swimming into view, giving her a warm sense of comfort, "Where am I? What happened?"

"Do you not remember?" Aubrey frowned in concern, "You're in the hospital honey."

"Hospital?" Pieces of her memory started to come back to her as she lay in the hospital bed. Dancing. Drinking. Puking. An EMT. Doctors, "I was at a bar... did someone spike my drink?"

"No... apparently this is what happens if you mix prescription antibiotics with copious amounts of alcohol." Beca stiffened slightly at the mention of her drinking again, not wanting to deal with this from her mom too.

"Yeah, I've had a couple of work parties back to back, I must've gone too hard..." She mumbled, not making eye contact with her friend.

"Beca... when they brought you in you had a blood alcohol level of 0.33, that's more than just a couple of wild parties. You were less than an hour away from going into kidney failure." The frown on Aubrey’s face deepened as Beca dodged around the problem, blatantly lying to her.

"It's fine... what are you doing here anyway, how'd you know I was here?" Beca's brow furrowed in annoyance, still not quite grasping what a big deal this was.

"Chloe called me. She didn’t feel up to coming on her own.” Aubrey crossed one leg over the other, looking at Beca with concern. Chloe had barely been comprehensible on the phone, totally distraught at the news that Beca had been rushed into the ER. The redhead had finally been convinced to go and get a coffee, Aubrey promising to sit with Beca.

“Oh.” Beca sniffed, “Right, of course.”

“Beca… you’re not well.” Aubrey was nothing but concerned at this point, it really hitting her just how far Beca had fallen.

“No duh, that’s why I’m in hospital.” Beca rolled her eyes, dodging the point.

“I’m serious Becs. Your drinking is out of control, it’s going to kill you if you keep this up.” Aubrey wasn’t pulling any punches, knowing there was no point to beating around the bush with this anymore, “You have a problem…”

"I do not have a problem!" There it was. The ultimate lie, the one that Beca had fooled herself into believing.

"Beca... you do. This isn't normal behaviour. I know you can beat this if you try. It’s an illness, not a character flaw, there is no shame in admitting that you need help here." Aubrey frowned deeply. She was used to the brunette’s stubbornness, god knows she’d dealt with a fair share of it in college, but this was different. It wasn’t the mischievous stubbornness that Aubrey had grown fond of (not that she’s ever admit that to Beca) it was denial, and it was going to kill her.

 “I’m fine Aubrey. I just partied a little hard. Just because you’re too uptight to know what fun is doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t.” Beca pulled her hand from Aubrey’s, crossing her arms defensively across her chest.

“Beca. This is serious.” Aubrey frowned, “You nearly died today. This problem that you don’t have, it’s going to kill you.”

“God you were always so dramatic.” Beca rolled her eyes, “Just get off your high horse for a minute Posen, yeah? You’re not the perfect princess you think you are.”

Aubrey narrowed her eyes, as they flashed black, but before they could get into an argument Chloe re-entered the room with two cups of coffee.

“You’re awake.” Chloe gasped, a soft smile on her face, setting the coffee down quickly, “I was so worried…”

“Yeah… I’m sorry. Guess it’s just been a wild couple of days.” Beca shrugged, sniffing slightly as Aubrey got to her feet.

“I’m gonna go, I haven’t seen Bella all day.” She walked over to Chloe and gave her a hug, “Call me later, we need to talk.” Aubrey whispered in Chloe’s ear, the redhead nodding slightly.

After Aubrey left, Chloe sat next to the hospital bed, looking up at Beca. She was too afraid if she took her hand, if she touched her in anyway, that she’d shatter like glass. This was all too familiar; it was like she was back in the Cayman Islands, sitting by Beca’s side as she waited for her to wake up. And just like that time, this was all her fault. Chloe hadn’t realised just how much Beca’s drinking had spiralled out of control until now, she’d been so wrapped up in her own problems, so selfishly lost in how she was feeling that she’d missed the fact that the woman she loved so much was falling apart. Chloe had told her all of the things that had happened to her, had poured her heart out to her and look what it had driven her to do. She’d put Beca here in this hospital bed.

It was all her fault.

“You should go home.” Beca smiled softly, pulling Chloe from her spiral, “You’re exhausted, you’ve been working so hard at the clinic lately, go and get some sleep.”

“I can sleep here, I did it last time.” Chloe joked weakly, tucking her hair behind her ears when Beca reached for her hand.

“Yeah, but this time you know I’m going to be okay. So go sleep in a bed, okay?” Beca forced a grin to hide the fact that her heart was breaking at the fact that Chloe had pulled away.

“You sure?” Chloe frowned. She didn’t want to leave Beca, but the thought of staying by her hospital bed again filled with a dread she couldn’t explain.

“Go home Chloe.” Beca didn’t let the grin fall from her face, nor did she voice the fact that she wanted Chloe to stay, to hold her until she felt strong again, because right now she could feel herself falling apart.

Chloe stood up, pausing before tentatively leaning down and kissing Beca’s forehead before hurriedly leaving the room. Beca closed her eyes, tears slipping down her cheeks as she heard the door close. She hated this, all of this. She just wanted to go back in time and stop herself saying anything to Chloe in the Cayman Islands, because honestly, all the hiding her feelings, all the side glances and stolen looks were far less painful than this.

Chloe leant against the door, tears falling fast. How could she have done this to Beca? She’d caused her so much pain and heartache… she should never have told Beca how she felt. Her father had been right about one thing; she was an abomination, she destroyed everything and everyone she touched. Sniffing, she pulled her phone from her pocket and dialled the number that she needed.

“Hey, it’s Chloe… I need your help.”

The following morning Beca checked herself out against her doctor's advice. She was in no mood to be lectured about her drinking by anyone else, and the hand shaking and the sweating told her that she needed a shot (or four) to take the edge off and then she'd be fine. She didn't have a problem, it was just the stress of Aubrey yelling at her yesterday. The doctor had warned her about mixing her antibiotics with booze, given her enough pamphlets to kill off a rainforest, and reluctantly let her go. It had half occurred to her to ring Chloe, but she didn’t want to bother her, knowing that she was probably already at work. Beca paused as she got out of the hospital, wondering whether to go home or to a bar, but after a few moments she resolved to go home, knowing she had some alcohol at home, and wanting to shower and sleep in her own bed. She headed for the subway, headphones in as she distracted herself from the waves of nausea she kept having. 'Almost home. I'm almost home. It'll be fine. I'm almost there.'

Eventually the short brunette reached her apartment, going to unlock the door but finding it unlocked already. 'Oh shit, did Chloe forget to lock it again? She really needs to get better at that...' She pushed the door open, going to set her handbag down, but jumping out of her skin as she realised that she wasn't the only one in her apartment.

"Jesus... what are you guys doing here?" Beca frowned, her chest pounding from the fright (and from the withdrawal, but Beca was in denial). Sat on various surfaces were Ashley, Jessica, Flo, Lilly, Cynthia-Rose, Emily and Stacie (who had Bella in her lap), each of them a worried look on their face, along with her mom, dad, and Sheila. An unsettling feeling settled in her stomach as she looked around her.

"Sit down Beca." Her mother's voice was firm but concerned.

"Look, I just wanna shower and go to bed, can whatever this is wait until tomorrow?" Beca gestured to them, sighing heavily.

"No Beca. It can't." Ellie was deadly serious. It was time for this to end.

"Okay, I'm gonna go have a beer down the block, when I get back, I want you guys gone." Beca turned to leave the apartment, but Aubrey (who had been standing next to the door when Beca came in) blocked her path, her arms crossed across her chest, her jaw set.

"You're gonna sit your ass down, or I'm going to make you." Aubrey was sick of being patient, and she wasn't about to let the brunette walk out of her now, not when everyone had dropped everything to help her.

Beca held up her hands defensively, rolling her eyes as she turned and sat down on the chair that had been left empty for her, "Alright Captain Posen, keep your hair on!"

"Beca, I'm worried about you, we all are." Her mom started as she watched Beca squirm uncomfortably.

"Oh what, suddenly you're mom of the year?" Beca spat, "This is the first time you've ever made any effort to come and see me, it's always the other way round!"

"Rebecca Lauren Mitchell, I give you a lot of leeway in our relationship, but you will treat me with some respect." Ellie narrowed her eyes. Her daughter might be twenty-six, but she was not above being chastised by her mother.

"If you came all the way to New York just to yell at me and be all judgemental you can just go." Beca sneered.

"You don't get to tell me what to do Beca, you are my daughter, not the other way around." Ellie was shaking with anger. If this was the way that Beca had been talking to all her friends, it was no wonder they were here now.

"Really? Because for about five, six years there I could've sworn it was that way round." Beca's eyes narrowed.

“Beca, you are not old for me to slap this attitude out of you!" Ellie was having none of this, not caring that all of her friends were there or that this would embarrass Beca, "I know I wasn't the best mom after your dad left, but I'm big enough to admit that. I could've done better, and for that I'm sorry. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna let you talk to me like this, to throw your life away because you won't sack up and admit that you have a problem!"

"I do not have a problem!" Beca rolled her eyes, arms crossing across her chest.

"Beca... you do. This isn't normal behaviour. I am your mother, which means I know you can beat this if you try. There is so much of me in you." A couple of tears slipped down her cheeks.

"I think I've proved I'm definitely more of my father's daughter, don't you?" Beca pulled away, turning her back on her mother as she rolled over in the bed. Ellie bit her lip. That one hurt.

"You wanna shut me out? Fine." Ellie's voice was thick with the tears that she held back, "But I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, whether you like it or not. None of us are, we’re all here for you."

"Really? Because this is the first time I've seen some of you in nearly a year." Beca's eyebrow was raised, almost daring them to challenge her.

"It's not by design." Jessica smiled softly, her hand resting in Ashley's knee, "It's been really hectic, we've all had work, we've all been trying to process what happened..."

"Oh but suddenly when Beca's in trouble you come running?" Beca was belligerent, determined to deflect this for as long as possible in the hope that they'd just leave her alone, "What, you wanted to stick your nose, watch and see how Beca 'effin Mitchell had fallen apart? Hate to disappoint you Jess, but I'm fine."

"No you're not." Ashley chimed in, her eyes filled with concern, "Even at Halloween you were drinking and drinking..."

"It was a party! And Aubrey was WAY drunker than I was!" Beca pointed behind her with her thumb as Aubrey rolled her eyes, resisting the urge to smack Beca upside the head, "Look, I'm sorry you guys wasted your time coming here, but I'm fine. I don't know who called you, but... it wasn't needed. Who was it, anyway, was it you cap?” Beca turned to look at Aubrey, an eyebrow raised.

"No. I did." Chloe stood in the far corner of the kitchen, a coffee cup in her hand. It had looked so normal to Beca that Chloe would be in the kitchen like this that she hadn't even registered her when she'd arrived home.

"Chlo..." Beca hadn't expected Chloe to be home, nor had she expected her to ring all her friends and her family for no reason.

"I told them that you ended up in the hospital." Her tone was level, and her face was neutral, but inside Chloe’s heart was breaking. Breaking because she could see how far in denial Beca was, breaking because Beca couldn’t see how ill she was, breaking because this was all her fault.

"Oh, great, so you've all come to judge me?" Beca was angry that Chloe had told them, "I bet you conveniently left out the bit where you’re falling apart too? Turned it all around me, made me the pathetic sad sack. Didn’t think to tell them-"

"I told them all of it." Chloe cut in, knowing where Beca was going and stopping her before she revealed things that she wasn't ready for everyone else to her. Beca grinned, eyebrows raising, knowing exactly what the redhead had just done, "You won't admit Beca, god knows why, but you have a drinking problem. It's been going on for a while now."

"I noticed it at Thanksgiving." Her dad started, "I thought it was just nerves at your mom and I being together in the same room, but with what everyone else has been telling me... Beca I could smell whiskey on your breath when you arrived, and it was ten am."

Beca scoffed, "Gee dad, caring about your daughter is a good look on you, you should have tried it sooner, say... fifteen years ago before you slept with the slut sitting next to you."

Hank put his hand on Shelia's thigh as she opened her mouth to respond, silently reminding her that Beca was simply doing this to get a rise out of them. It was working of course, but they couldn't let her see that.

"Look, you can deflect this as much as you want." Stacie frowned, gently bouncing Bella on her lap in order to keep her soothed, "But we can see that this bitch sat in front of us?" Stacie covered Bella's ears as she swore, "This isn't Beca Mitchell. This is a woman struggling with alcohol dependence and PTSD."

"I don't have a problem!" Beca cried, a knot forming in her stomach, looking at the floor rather than at her friends and family.

"Yes you do." Emily smiled, "And it's okay. We're here for you. All of us."

"I'm fine." Beca was barely able to hold her tears back.

"That's why your hands are shaking and you're sweating then?" Cynthia-Rose raised an eyebrow, knowing she wasn't the only one that had noticed Beca's withdrawal symptoms.

"I just got out of hospital, I'm gonna be a bit off!" Beca protested, clenching her fists in an effort to stop the shaking.

"Beca... please." The brunette finally took her eyes off the floor to look at Chloe as she pleaded with her, "Please let us help you."

Beca opened her mouth to protest but found no words, tears starting to fall down her cheeks as she looked around her at her family who, despite everything that she'd said and done, had rallied around her when she was falling apart. Because she was falling apart, and she couldn't deny it anymore. Everyone could see that she was broken, lost, and helpless to save herself from this spiral of self-destruction that she'd been in since they got back from the Cayman Islands. She let her head drop into her hands, sobbing heavily, her whole body shaking as she let go of everything that she'd been holding onto. Ellie went to her immediately, pulling her into her arms as Beca sobbed into her shoulder like she was a child again, her mother holding her tight. There wasn't a dry eye in the room as her family, blood and otherwise, watched the feisty, fiercely loyal, sarcastic in all the best ways, brunette that they loved so much completely fall apart. The non-New York Bellas couldn't help but feel guilty for not trying harder to keep in contact, to make a point of going to see their friend who'd had it worst of almost all of them at the hands of Fergus Hobart. They were all struggling with the aftermath of the kidnapping of course, but given that Beca and Chloe had both been with him for so long, and they'd been hurt so badly, they should've been keeping a closer eye on both of them.

Aubrey silently walked over to Chloe, wrapping her arms around her and pulling her close. They rarely needed to share words in a moment like this, but the blonde's embrace reassured Chloe that she wasn't being forgotten in all this, that Aubrey knew that Chloe was fighting desperately to keep her own head above water.

A few minutes that felt like hours passed, Beca's cries subsided as she gently pulled away from her mother. Beca wiped at her eyes with her hands as Ellie went back to her seat, "I- I don't know how to do this..." She whispered, "I don't know how to fix this..."

"That's why we're here Beca." Hank smiled, "We want to help you get better, to get help for this."

"What if you can't? What if this is it? What if I'm just... broken?" Beca couldn't look at any of them.

Chloe could feel her heart break a little, wondering how exactly she could've missed that Beca was feeling like this. Had she been that wrapped up in her own problems that she couldn't see that the woman she loved was feeling like this? Because she did still love Beca, despite everything that had happened, and to see her this distraught made her want to run to her and wrap her in her arms. But she couldn't.

"Beca..." Chloe set her coffee cup down, untangling herself from Aubrey's arms and knelt down next to her friend, "You are not 'just broken' okay? We can fix this. We all have your back here, you just need to stop pushing us away."

“Really? Because if I wasn’t broken, New Years Eve would never have happened.” Beca shook her head, unable to look at any of them.

“Oh Beca…” Chloe sighed, taking her hand for the first time since that night, “It wasn’t your fault…”

“What happened at New Years?” Ellie asked, a worried look on her face.

Beca's eyes met Chloe's as she bit her lip. How could she tell her mother what had happened? Tell any of them what happened? They’d be so disappointed in her, so angry that she’d let it happen...

“It’s okay Beca.” Stacie smiled softly, “Chloe’s right, it wasn’t your fault. They’ll understand.”

Beca looked back at the floor, grateful that Chloe’s hand was in hers. It was giving her the strength she needed to get through telling this. To say it out loud.

“Um… Chloe and I got into a huge fight on New Years Eve.” Beca started, not looking up from the floor as she could feel every eye in the apartment on her. Chloe shifted her position on the floor so that she was sat next to Beca on the floor, resting her head on her knee. It was a small thing, but it meant the world to Beca.

“It was such a stupid fight; we were both over tired and stressed.” Beca shook her head, “I went to a bar, I was half-cut anyway… but I got really wasted and there was this woman.”

You could cut the tension in the room with a knife as it seemed that everyone was holding their breath. None of them could have predicted where this was going.

“I uh… I-” Beca wrung her hands together, her chest tightening partly out of anxiety, partly out of withdrawal, “I don’t really remember anything after she bought me my third beer… it’s just a black void until I woke up when Chloe came home.” Beca’s voice was barely a whisper as she bit her lip, eyes squeezing shut. She was trembling as Chloe pressed herself a little closer, her hand still in Beca’s as she squeezed it gently.

“I woke up next to this woman who had been buying me drinks. I have no idea how we got back here, what I said to her, what she said to me… all I know is that we- we-” Beca couldn’t finish the sentence, head in her hands, gripping the sides of her head tightly as if it would either bring back the memories from that night or erase them all together, either option easier than this.

“Beca…” Ellie gasped, tears pouring down her face as she looked at her daughter, “Oh sweetie…” She got up from her seat again, gently kneeling in front of Beca and cupping her cheeks with her hands, “You’re okay, it’s okay. We’ve got you, you’re okay now…”

Beca sobbed heavily, “It’s my fault, I was so stupid… I’m the one who got so trashed that she was able to do that, that put myself in this position. It’s all my fault…”

“No Beca honey, no it’s not.” Ellie gently tucked Beca’s hair behind her ears, “You’re not well Becs, and this woman took advantage of that. That isn’t your fault. It’s hers.”

Chloe quietly got to her feet, as Ellie tried to soothe her daughter, walking to the kitchen as she put a hand over her mouth to stifle her own sob. The haunting familiarity of the situation made Chloe’s heart clench and her stomach churn, and the fact that she had turned her back on Beca, even for just half a day, made her the worst person in the world. God how could she have done that to her? Aubrey silently followed Chloe into the kitchen, going to hug her again but Chloe pushed her away shaking her head. She didn’t need comforting. She didn’t deserve it. Not after what she’d done to Beca.

The sound of Beca’s sobs echoed around the apartment as her family slowly got up from their seats, each of them resting a hand on Beca or wrapping an arm around her, Chloe and Aubrey joining them too, as they tried to comfort her, the reality of the situation, of how far she’d fallen hitting her like a brick to the face.

Eventually, they all pulled back as Beca’s sobs subsided. The brunette looked up from the ground and around at the people around her. Her family. The people that she’d been so determined to push away but were still here to support her when she was at her lowest. What on earth had she done to deserve this?

“I can’t do this… I can’t keep falling apart like this.” Beca shook her head, “This has to stop doesn’t it?”

Stacie nodded, a soft smile on her lips, "Are you ready to do this Becs?" she asked, a serious look on her face, "Because if you're not it won't stick, and we'll just end up back here. Except that we might not all be here then. The buck stops here."

Beca turned her head to look at Stacie, knowing that she was right, "I don't wanna be like this anymore Stace... the things I said..."

"I know." Stacie didn't need an apology from her, "I need you to get help Beca. I want my sister back." Her face faltered a little as she fought back tears.

"How do I do this?" Beca asked, looking around at all of them again.

"You need to stop drinking. Immediately." Ellie wasn't angry anymore, too worried about her daughter to hold what she'd said against her, "Cold turkey is the best way to do it."

"You should also join a support group, we're all here for you but you need to talk to people who know exactly what you're going through as well." Cynthia-Rose smiled, "My gambling addicts group are really helpful when I'm struggling or at the point where I feel like I'm going to relapse."

"And therapy." Jessica's voice was soft, "Lots of it. Unpack all of it and learn to deal with it. I know a great one that works right here in New York, she's well renowned in her field and sometimes comes up to the hospital I work at in Seattle for consults. She's waiting for you to call." Jessica passed her the card with the contact details on.

Beca nodded, taking the card, turning it in her fingers as she looked around her, "I love you guys... thank you..." She whispered.

"Group hug?" Emily suggested, a watery grin on her face as the others nodded, Ellie getting there first and pulling the sobbing brunette to her feet as everyone wrapped their arms around her holding her tight so that Beca could know how much they all loved her, regardless of everything and anything else.

They stayed like that for a good ten, fifteen minutes, Beca basking in the love of the people around her, unable to comprehend why they loved her this much, but immeasurably grateful that they did.

"I need one thing." Beca said as the hug broke apart, wiping at her eyes again, "I need one of you to keep me in check with this. To be answerable to. And mom, dad, Shelia, I love you all to death, but it can't be you guys. You know how I get when you guys try and tell me to do things." She laughed weakly, knowing her own weakness for the first time in months.

Chloe hesitated. The part of her that loved Beca (which let’s face it was pretty much all of her) wanted to volunteer to do it, wanted to be that person for Beca. But she couldn’t, she knew she couldn’t, and that broke her heart.

"I'll do it." Aubrey volunteered, a little too enthusiastically, a slightly threatening grin on her face.

"Should've seen that coming..." Beca mumbled, rolling her eyes in a way that was all too familiar to the assembled group. What wasn't familiar to any of them however was the way that Beca gently pushed past all of them to get to Aubrey and wrapped her arms around her, even the blonde caught off guard for a second before squeezing Beca back tightly, "Thanks Bree. Seriously, I'm going to need this more than you know."

"You're my family Beca. There's no thanks needed." Aubrey could feel her heart breaking a little. She knew the brunette better than Beca realised, and knew how much of a big deal it was for her to admit that she needed anyone, for her to actively ask for help, and despite everything that had happened she still loved her acapella sister with all her heart.

"Okay, this is all getting a little much for me now..." Flo laughed, wiping at her eyes with her hands.

"Yep..." Emily grinned, "I love you guys, but can our next big reunion be a little less emotional and dramatic?"

"With us?" Stacie laughed softly, "Probably not."

Beca pulled back from Aubrey, smiling gratefully at her as she ran a hand through her hair, "I feel like crap..." She sighed, her head pounding, suddenly exhausted.

"I'm gonna stay here for a week or so, help you through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms with Chloe." Ellie smiled, tucking a lock of hair behind Beca's ear, "And in a few minutes Aubrey and Stacie have all offered to help me and Chloe clean the alcohol out of this place. Everyone else has to go back home."

There were sad sympathetic smiles from her out-of-state family, all of them taking it in turns to give Beca a big hug. The short brunette was overcome once again with emotion, having never really understood what any of the Bellas saw in her. But knowing that they loved her like this? Maybe that was enough to get her through this.

"I really do love you awesome nerds." Beca smiled with tears in her eyes.

"We love you too Becs." Ashley grinned, "Just get better yeah? And talk to us. We may be all over the States, but we're still your family, and we'll always be there for you." She squeezed Beca's hand tight as her and Jessica left the apartment.

"I'm gonna come for a visit during the summer break." Emily promised, "We can go see Benji do off-Broadway!"

"You can help me catch a serial killer if you need something to distract yourself." Lilly's words were too quiet for Beca to hear, but still managed to send a chill down her spine as she smiled at them both.

"There's a sample box of juices coming for you every month." Flo grinned, "They can be frozen too so you don't have to drink them all at once!" Beca simply giggled as she watched them leave.

"I understand better than anyone how hard it is to kick an addiction." Cynthia-Rose hugged Beca tight again, "You ever need to talk about it, you call me okay?" Beca nodded, a lump in her throat as Cynthia-Rose left the apartment too.

Her dad pulled her into a bear hug, saying nothing as he just kissed her head, not needing words to express to Beca how he felt. Sheila hugged her too, Beca sniffling a little as she did.

"I'm sorry Sheila..." She whispered into her shoulder.

"There's no need Beca. We're family okay? I love you as surely as if you were my own." She cupped Beca's face in her hands as the short brunette pulled back, "I do love you Beca, even if I am a step-monster."

Beca winced, "I didn't know you knew about that..."

"I get it, okay? I am partly to blame for your parents splitting up, but I'm hoping that one day, we can put that behind us." Shelia's eyes were hopeful, her voice soft and concerned.

"I'd like that." Beca smiled. Her dad and Sheila left, closing the door behind them, and leaving Beca in the very capable hands of the women that probably loved her most of all.

"Right." Stacie said, getting off the sofa with Bella in her arms, "You sit down on the sofa and hold Bella for me, we'll start getting rid of the booze in this place."

"Are you sure?" Beca hadn't forgotten what Stacie had said to her the day she picked up Chloe's stuff, nor had she forgotten what she'd said back.

"Yeah." Stacie smiled softly, handing Bella to Beca as she sat down, briefly perching next to her, "I need to start trusting you again. Besides..." She grinned as Bella garbled happily as she looked at her aunt, moving to put her arms around her neck for a cuddle, "Bella wants to look after her Auntie Beca, don't you sweetness?"

Bella garbled sleepily as she snuggled into Beca’s chest, “Be-ah.” She sighed happily as Beca gasped softly, tears slipping down her cheeks.

“Did she just?” The brunette grinned.

“Yeah, she’s started picking up names.” Stacie grinned, “It nearly killed me when she called me mama the first time…”

"Stacie I'm sorry." Beca started, arms around Bella, "Those things I said-"

"Beca, I forgive you." Stacie stopped her, "It wasn't you that said that, not the you that I know anyway. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't okay that you said those things, but I sort of understand why you did."

"I'm still sorry... I never wanted to hurt you Stacie, not really. I'm amazed you came after what I said." Beca couldn't look at her friend, her eyes instead on the now sleeping baby in her arms, Bella having fallen asleep with her arms still around Beca's neck.

"You're stuck with me a long while yet Mitchell, don't you worry about that." Stacie chuckled tears in her eyes, "I've got you Beca. Both of you." She looked over at Chloe, a sad smile in her lips, "I know. About Chloe." Her voice was low so they wouldn't be overheard.

"How?" Beca too was quiet, but shocked nonetheless.

"Bree told me at Christmas... I don't think she meant to, but she'd had an awful day, and I found this therapy letter thing she did..." Stacie was making excuses for Aubrey she didn't need to make.

"It's okay I get it. It's a lot for a person to carry round... god what must you think of me, doing this to Chloe after I swore I'd look after her..." Beca was so ashamed of the way she'd treated all of them, but there were no words for how terrible she felt about what she'd done to Chloe.

"Beca..." Stacie took her free hand, her other gently stroking Bella's back, "You didn’t do anything wrong... You're sick, and we're gonna fix that, and then you're going to fix things with Chloe."

"I don't know if it can be fixed..." Beca's voice could barely be heard, admitting the thing that scared her the most.

"Maybe you two won't get back together. But I can't see a world where you two aren't in each other's lives. She needs you Becs, but she needs you healthy. She misses you. The ‘well’ you" Stacie smiled.

"I miss her too..."

As Stacie was talking to Beca, Ellie turned to Aubrey and Chloe. 

“You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find this woman would you?” She asked them, voice quiet so that Beca couldn’t hear them, “I’m thinking me and her need a… conversation.”

“Already done.” Aubrey mumbled back, eyebrow raised.

“Really?” Chloe asked, “How did you-”

“It’s better you don’t know anything about it.” Aubrey smiled softly, “Plausible deniability.”

“I like you Aubrey. We’re gonna be good friends.” Ellie grinned, giving her a one armed hug as the blonde giggled slightly.

Stacie squeezed her hand tight, getting up to help Aubrey and the others get rid of all the alcohol in Beca's apartment. They left no stone unturned, no cupboard un-emptied, no nook not checked. Under her mattress, between the sofa cushions, behind the toilet. Big bottles, airplane bottles, cans. Wine, beer, spirits. Full, half-empty, empty. All of it gone, down the sick, in bin bags and down the trash chute in the hall. Beca sat and watched as it took them well over an hour to clean it all out, her arms around the sleeping toddler, focusing on the smell of her head rather than the waves of nausea that kept coming and going. Once it was all gone, Stacie gently lifted Bella from Beca's chest, kissing her head as she held her close to her chest.

"We're gonna go Beca, but we'll call you, drop in when we can. We're right here if you need anything." Stacie smiled, cupping Beca's cheek with her spare hand, "I love you Beca, you've got this."

"Thanks Stace. For everything." Beca smiled softly.

"I'll be calling you every day after your mom leaves, if you don't answer I'm gonna come and track you down." Aubrey was smiling, but Beca knew the threat was very real.

"I know. I appreciate this Aubrey, I really do." Beca knew that the blonde was closer to Chloe than she was to her, so the fact that she had agreed to do this meant the world to Beca. The blonde simply smiled in response, giving Beca one last hug before her and Stacie headed for the door, leaving the three of them alone.

"I'm gonna go and get a coffee from the cafe over the road, first thing we're doing tomorrow is heading to the store, there's nothing in this apartment now!" Ellie joked, gently nudging her daughter who just rolled her eyes, " I'll be five minutes, tops!" Ellie left the two alone in the apartment together sensing that they needed a moment to talk.

“I uh… thank you.” Beca mumbled, not looking at Chloe as she rubbed her arm sheepishly.

“Don’t you ever threaten to tell our friends like that again.” Chloe pursed her lips, eyes narrowing a little. Now was perhaps not the moment to get angry at Beca, but it needed to be said, “It is my story to tell when I’m ready. Okay?”

Beca nodded, completely ashamed of how she’d behaved, “I’m so sorry Chloe. I was totally out of line.”

“Yeah you were.” Chloe shook her head, “But it’s okay.”

"No. It's not." Beca shook her head.

"You're right. It's not. But I'm dealing with it." Chloe smiled softly, wrapping her arms around herself. Beca took a step closer to her, but second guessed herself and paused before getting closer.

"I um... I was wondering if you could hold me? Just for a second?" Beca looked at her feet, fiddling with the cuffs of her sleeves.

"Beca..." Chloe sighed, tears springing to her eyes, "Of course…” Chloe pulled Beca close, letting the brunette wrap her arms around her waist and bury her head in her neck for the first time in two months. The redhead hated how much she’d missed this, how much she needed this too. Because not having Beca run into her arms when she got home from work, not having Beca sleepily kiss her head when they woke up, not having Beca curled up in her arms as they slept, was so much harder than she’d ever thought it would be.

“I miss you so much.” Beca mumbled into her shoulder, sniffing slightly, “I know you’re still here, and that I see you every day, but I do, I miss you…”

“I miss you too.” Chloe choked back tears, holding Beca a little tighter, “I needed this too.”

They stood there for a moment in each other’s arms, basking in the feeling of normalcy for the first time in what felt like forever. Neither of them wanted to pull away, wanting to live in this moment for as long as possible, but it was Beca that pulled back slightly, wiping at her eyes with her hands as Chloe’s arms rested on her waist.

“Thank you. For all of this Chloe. You saved my life; you realise that right?” Beca smiled softly, fighting the urge to lean up and kiss her, even though there was nothing in the world she would rather do right now.

“Well I guess that makes us even now then.” Chloe chuckled, an eyebrow raised. Beca rolled her eyes, a moment of silence passing between them as they looked at each other. Beca could hear her heart pounding as she lifted her head to close the gap between them but:

"Hey, I got us all bagels too!" Ellie came through the door wielding coffees in one hand and a bag of bagels in the other.

Beca could feel her heart sink as she pulled away, Chloe’s arms falling to her sides. Ellie cursed silently; she hadn’t meant to interrupt them, she was rooting for them to get back together, to put this whole awful thing behind them. 

God what a mess…

Chapter Text

The first two weeks of sobriety were really rough on Beca. Her mom and Chloe had been her life raft as Beca had puked up everything she tried to put in her system, shivering despite being wrapped up in many blankets then too hot to the point where it felt like her skin was on fire. Ellie had held back her hair, Chloe had wrapped her up in blankets, both had pressed a cold damp cloth to her head, held her whilst she'd sobbed because it felt like too much, trading off shifts so that they could both be there for Beca as much as they possibly could, Chloe and Ellie alternating nights at an Airbnb nearby that Ellie had rented. But, 2 weeks later, Beca's mom had left and gone home to Washington, making her promise to stay in touch, every week at least. Beca had promised and meant it, never wanting to have to go through that again, and wanting to make good on her promise to her family.

It had been a pleasant surprise to Beca when later that week she had called up her old boss to apologise and to beg for her job, any job, and been told that she hadn't made Beca's resignation official, seeing how much she was struggling, and had instead using the unused holiday time in the hope that Beca would come to her senses before it ran out. So Beca returned to work, realising that she'd never quite given the job her all, which was probably why they were giving her a hard time. She threw herself into it for a few weeks, proving that they were right to hire her, and soon she was living up to her resume and her recommendations.

Her support group was better than Beca had expected too, not the schmaltzy, oversharing environment that she had feared it would be. Her first couple of sessions had been awkward and uncomfortable, but as she listened to people share their stories, all of them at different points of sobriety, Beca relaxed and on her third session, she found herself doing what she'd never thought she'd do. She shared.

"I think I speak for all of us when I say that we're really proud of you Mike." There were murmurs of agreement as the group leader smiled, "I think we've got time for one more share?"

"I-I'd like to?" Beca was sheepish and uncomfortable, public speaking was never her forte, but this felt important.

"Of course!" The leader smiled; she was hoping the short brunette would open up.

"So, um, I'm Beca, and I'm almost a month sober." Beca smiled awkwardly as there were supportive noises from everyone, "Thanks. I, uh, I never had an issue with drinking really, not even in college, I was too awkward for loads of parties." She smirked, a light ripple of laughter spreading through the small group, "And then, ten months ago this... huge thing happened, completely out of the blue, and um, I won't bore you with the details of it but... it started kinda small y'know?"

The nods of the people around her spurred her onwards, "It was a drink before bed so that I could sleep, and I seemed less likely to have nightmares if I did. And then it was an Irish coffee every other morning because I hated my job and it got me through it. Then it was a couple of beers on my lunch break so I could go back to work. Before I knew it I was stashing those little airplane bottles in my bag next my breath mints and I was using the tiniest things as excuses for a drink."

Beca swallowed hard, leaning forward in her seat, hands wringing together as she stared at the floor, "And then... Christmas happened and it triggered some of the shit I'd been repressing from the summer, as well as bringing up some whole new shit, and... I was out of control. I- I got myself into a really stupid situation on New Year’s Eve. My girlfriend and I, we had a huge fight, and I was wayyy drunker than usual... and I brought this girl home, to our bed. I don't even remember actually sleeping with her..." Beca scoffed.

"But I did, and then... then Chloe suggested we put things on pause, which I can't exactly blame her for, I screwed it up big time. But I just... I stopped caring. It's not her fault, I'm not saying that. I made the decisions that got me here. Anyway, I was partying super hard, I quit my job when my boss tried to help, I lashed out and hurt my family when they tried to help... and I ended up in hospital. I'm on antibiotics permanently, it's a long story, but it turns out that if you combine that with alcohol it's really bad for you. I was brought into the ER on the verge of kidney failure, I had a blood alcohol level of 0.33, and still I didn't want to stop." Beca sniffed, not looking up from the floor.

"I got home the next day and they were all waiting for me... all of the people that I'd call family, sat there for god knows how long until I saw that it was a problem. They're the reason I'm here, the reason that I'm... alive. I was never good at doing things for myself, not things like this. I never felt like I was worth it. But for them? I'd move mountains, part seas... stop drinking. I love them, so yeah, at the risk of sounding really queerballs, I'm doing this for them." Beca wiped at her eyes, applause meeting the end of her story as the people either side of her patted her on the shoulder. Beca saw nothing but supportive smiles as she looked around the room, her chest pounding a little as she finished speaking.

"Everyone here will tell you that the first month is the hardest. You're doing really well, and it sounds like your support unit is really strong. You can beat this Beca, we're all here with you." The group leader smiled widely as Beca just nodded, holding back tears.

The meeting concluded and Beca pulled on her jacket, nodding gratefully as people came over to offer words of support, making her way to the door.

"Hey, Beca!" The group leader grinned as she caught up to Beca, "Are you not staying? The coffee's crap, but Nick made cake and it's to DIE for."

Beca laughed softly, "That sounds very tempting, but I have an early start with work tomorrow." Beca wasn't lying to get out of social occasion as usual, there was a deadline for a client's album coming up and it was Beca's first solo project at her record label so she wanted to prove that she could not only manage but be exceptional.

"Ah fair enough. What is that you do?" The older woman asked with a genuine smile.

"I'm a junior producer for Twilight Records." It was a long time since someone that wasn't family had been interested in her life.

"Oh cool! A music whiz then? We could do with you on trivia nights! I'm Ali by the way, I don't think I've introduced myself to you yet." Ali's upbeat nature would normally make Beca roll her eyes, but in this context it was almost reassuring.

"Ha, I don't know if I'd say 'whiz' exactly, but I'm alright." Beca grinned.

"You should definitely join us for a trivia night sometime. When you're comfortable enough to be in a bar that is." Ali smiled softly.

"That sounds great." Beca almost didn't recognise herself. Sober trivia night? Who was she?

"You're doing great Beca. Keep going and keep coming to these meetings. Tonight was a really great start."

"Thank you. I'm not really good at this sort of thing, but it felt nice to get it off my chest. Even if I did ramble a bit." Beca ran a hand through her hair, sheepish.

"Believe me, when you start offloading it can be hard to stop. It's okay to ramble if that's what you need." Ali put a reassuring hand on Beca's arm.

"Thanks Ali. I'll see you next week." Beca headed for the door.

“One thing.” Ali smiled softly, “Do me a favour? Try and reframe the way you talk about New Years Eve, even just with yourself. Because it’s important that you acknowledge that it wasn’t your fault.”

“Everyone keeps telling me that…” Beca sighed, running a hand through her hair.

“Huh. Maybe you should listen to us then.” Ali raised an eyebrow teasingly, “But seriously Beca, what happened to you was sexual assault. This woman took advantage of you, no matter how drunk you were, that’s never okay.” The look on Ali’s face was serious, but her tone wasn’t condescending.

“I’m trying… I really am.” Beca smiled softly, “I just… I don’t know…”

“You are doing great Beca. You’re winning, but it’s a long road.” Ali tilted her head slightly, smiling, “Are you doing therapy too? It’ll help you get your head round all of this, help you unpack it and deal with it.”

“I start next week.” Beca nodded, “Alright, I really do have to go now. See you next week.” Beca had a smile on her face as she waved goodbye.

"See you next week Beca, look after yourself!" Ali called, waving back.

Beca stepped out into the night air, feeling lighter than she had in a long time. Half an hour later she arrived back at the apartment, unlocking the door, her eyes falling on Chloe who was sat at the kitchen table surrounded by paperwork.

“Late night study session?” Beca asked, eyebrow raised as she shrugged off her jacket.

“Yeah…” Chloe gave her a tired smile, “I’ve got an exam in a couple of days so I’m just trying to get ready.”

“Need any help?” Beca offered, “I suck at biology, but I could test you from your flashcards?”

“That’d be great.” Chloe’s smile got wider as Beca turned on the coffee machine, knowing they’d both need a cup, “How was your meeting?”

“Really great.” Beca grinned, “I um… I actually shared this time.”

“Beca that’s amazing!” Chloe grinned, getting up from the table and pulling her into a hug, “I’m so proud of you!”

“Thanks Chlo.” Beca hugged her back, pulling apart when the coffee machine beeped to indicate it was ready. Pouring two cups, Beca joined Chloe at the kitchen table, picking up the flashcards that the redhead had made.

“Alright. First question. What is the longest bone in the body of a dog?” Beca held the flashcards close to her chest so that Chloe couldn’t peek.

“Femur.” Chloe answered confidently, “That’s an easy on Becs, come on. You can do better than that.”

“Alright cocky!” Beca grinned, raising an eyebrow, shuffling the flashcards until she found one that looked harder, “Rete mirabile cerebri is absent in…”

“…Horses?” Chloe asked tentatively, the corner of her lips curling into a smirk as Beca butchered the Latin.

“Right!” Beca grinned, “What the hell is that?”

Chloe laughed, “It’s a group of arteries in the vascular system of horses.” She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear as Beca nodded.

“You really are a smart cookie aren’t you.” She mumbled as Chloe rolled her eyes, “Alright, let’s see if I can stump you before the night is out.”

The study session carried on way into the night, Beca quietly impressed by how much of this information Chloe knew, Chloe quietly impressed at Beca’s quick grasp of the Latin. It was reminiscent of their college years, the late-night cram sessions they used to have before midterms, both of them forgetting for a night the problems they’d been having, the horrors they’d been through. Tonight, they were just Beca and Chloe, best friends and study partners.

It was perfect.

The next week, Beca started therapy. Everything was falling into place, the brunette sticking to a rigid routine to make sure she always had something to do that wasn't drink. Her days off from work were difficult, especially when Chloe was at work or school. It was on one of these days that there was a knock at the door. Beca almost didn’t hear it at first, her headphones on as she tried to do some work at home, but once she did, she gave a grateful sigh getting up to answer. She needed the distraction.

Beca frowned slightly, a smile on her face as she opened the door to see Benji, “Hey, what’re you doing here?”

“Beca, thank god you’re home!” Benji cried, “I really need your help!”

“Come in.” Beca grinned, stepping back so he could enter, the young man pacing a little, “I’d offer you a coffee, but it might make this worse.” Beca indicated to all of Benji as she grimaced a little.

“I’m so glad you’re here. Em’s still in Atlanta and I really need someone to run through these numbers with me. The girl playing opposite me is so talented, but really snobby and won’t practice with me outside of the scheduled rehearsal time!” Benji was a little dramatic but Beca, and the rest of them, found it endearing.

“Okay, breathe.” Beca laughed softly, putting a hand on his arm.

“God what if you weren’t home? Chloe isn’t here, Stacie probably wouldn’t be home either, and Aubrey… Aubrey scares me…” Benji was stressed out, so wanting this play to go well.

Beca bit her lip to hold in the laugh as she gently guided him to sit at the kitchen table, “Aubrey scares all of us dude…” Beca cleared her work stuff off the table before making them both a coffee (decaff for Benji), “So how can I help?”

“There’s this duet I’m really struggling with…” Benji sighed, gratefully taking the coffee from her, “Would you be able to run through it with me a couple of times? We go on tonight, and I just… I’m so nervous.”

“Benji, you’re gonna be amazing. For a Treblemaker you’re really good.” Beca grinned, “So what’s the musical Broadway man?”

“The Last Five Years.” The top of Benji’s ears went red as he grinned at Beca’s compliment, “It’s off-Broadway, but it’s Jason Robert Brown.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. That’s huge Benji, Emily must be so proud.” Beca smiled.

“She is.” Benji beamed at the mention of his girlfriend, “She’s so upset that she couldn’t be here for it, but between Bella’s practice and third year finals she’s just too busy.”

“That’s a shame!” Beca sat back in her chair, “Right, come on, let’s nail this duet. You got the sheet music?”

“What kind of musical theatre actor do you take me for?” Benji grinned, raising an eyebrow as he pulled two pieces of sheet music from his bag.

“Sorry, of course.” Beca took one of them from him, reading over it, “Yeah we can do this, there’s a few belts in here, but nothing I can’t handle.”

“I knew you’d be able to help me…” Benji sighed happily, moving to his feet, “I have the music on my phone too.”

“Great!” Beca grinned, getting up from the table too. It had been a while since she’d had to sing like this, she had really missed it.

“Thanks Beca.” Benji grinned as he cued up the track, taking a deep breath as he waited for it to ger to his cue, “No, that one's Jerry Seinfeld/ That one's John Lennon there/ No, the Dakota/ The San Remo is up a few blocks/ Have you been inside the Museum?/ We should go/ Meet the dinosaurs/ Cathy...”

Beca grinned. She always knew Benji had a great voice, but she continually found herself blown away by his talent. She was so happy he was pursuing his dreams, and that his talent had been recognised.

“Will you share your life with me/ For the next ten minutes?/ For the next ten minutes/ We can handle that/ We could watch the waves/ We could watch the sky/ Or just sit and wait/ As the time ticks by.”

Beca frowned slightly at the lyrics. Ten minutes. Benji continued to sing as Beca thought about it. Ten minutes. Ten minutes of just… being together.

“There are so many lives I want to share with you/ I will never be complete until I do.” Beca was so lost in thought she almost missed her cue. Thankfully, there was a brief musical interlude for Beca to come to her senses.

“I'm not always on time/ Please don't expect that from me/ I will be late/ But if you can just wait/ I will make it eventually/ Not like it's in my control/ Not like I'm proud of the fact/ But anything other than being exactly on time/ I can do/ I don't know why people run/ I don't know why things fall through/ I don't know how anybody survives in this life/ Without someone like you/ I could protect and preserve/ I could say no and goodbye/ But why, Jamie, why?”

Beca began to belt the next lines, her mind only half on the music as the lyrics resonated with her. Her thoughts were of Chloe, of college, of the last eleven months, of what could come after. She’d had an idea, one that she hoped that Chloe would accept.

“Will you share your life with me (forever)/ For the next ten lifetimes? (forever, Jamie)/ For a million summers/ Till the world explodes/ Till there's no one left/ Who has ever known us apart/ There are so many dreams/ I need to see with you.../ There are so many years/ I need to be with you.../ I will never be complete/ I will never be alive/ I will never change the world/ Until I do/ I do/ I do/ I do/ I do.../ Is that one John Lennon?/ That's the San Remo/ Isn't that the Museum?/ Can we go see the dinosaurs?”

They finished the song, a big grin on Benji’s face as Beca sang her final part, “Maybe you should be playing Cathy instead.” He chuckled, “You’re way better than the girl I’m starring opposite.”

Beca rolled her eyes, “Thanks man. You have nothing to worry about, you’re going to nail it. How long does it run for? I know Chloe will wanna come and see it, Stacie and Bree too if they can get a babysitter.”

Benji just beamed widely, so grateful that Beca had been home to help out, but even more glad that the Bellas had adopted him into their family. It had been awkward at first, Aubrey resenting the presence of a Treblemaker at family gatherings, but even she eventually warmed to the double theatre and music major, and all of the Bellas had supported him as much as they supported each other. They ran through the song a few times and sat and chatted for hours, not realising what time it was until Chloe came home.

“Hey Benji!” Chloe grinned, “I didn’t know you were in New York!”

“Yeah, I got the lead in an off-Broadway musical for six weeks!” Benji grinned.

“Benji that’s amazing!” Chloe dropped her bag and ran to pull him into a congratulatory hug, “We are absolutely coming to see you perform, this is so huge!”

“Thanks Chlo!” Benji hugged her back tightly, “Oh god… I hadn’t realised it’s that late, I have to go! Thank you so much Beca, seriously.”

“No problem Benji, anytime.” Beca grinned, the pair of them waving him goodbye as he rushed out of the apartment.

“Thank you?” Chloe asked, an eyebrow raised quizzically as Beca made her a coffee.

“I ran a duet with him a few times, he was freaking about it.” Beca grinned, shrugging slightly, her mind on other things.

“Damn I missed that?” Chloe grinned as Beca rolled her eyes, setting a coffee down in front of Chloe.

“It got me thinking…” Beca started, Chloe frowning slightly, “The lyrics… it made me think about us.” Beca looked at the table rather than Chloe.

“Oh?” Chloe wasn’t sure where this was going, nor was she sure how she wanted this conversation to go, but her heart was pounding.

“The guy, he’s talking about ten minutes, ten minutes at a time where they’re together and nothing else matters but them. And it made me think. What if we were to do something like that? One of us calls ten minutes and none of the stuff that has happened, that is happening matters. We just have ten minutes to hold each other or whatever because it’s what we need.” Beca knew she was rambling, but she hoped that she’d explained it at least semi-coherently.

“So… you or I say ten minutes, and we get to be us for just ten minutes?” Chloe asked, her voice low.

“Yeah. Because you holding me after the intervention, when I was so raw and broken, I needed that more than I can ever explain.” Beca wiped at her eyes with her hands, “And sometimes, when I’m having a bad day and I need a reason to not go and get a bottle of vodka, which is not me saying that my sobriety depends on you, because if you’re not comfortable with this then we just carry on like we are and this conversation never happened.”

Chloe reached out and took Beca’s hand, sensing that her rambling would go on for a long while if she didn’t stop her. Beca tore her eyes from the table, meeting Chloe’s as the redhead smiled softly.

“I really like this idea Becs… because there are days where I need your arms around me more than I can say.” She sniffed, a tear slipping down her cheek.

“Really?” Beca let a soft smile creep onto her lips.

“Really.” Chloe nodded. Beca let out a small sigh, relieved that Chloe had agreed to this.

“Thank you.” Beca whispered, her eyes fluttering shut as she let the sense of relief was over her.

“Beca?” The brunette’s eyes snapped open again.

“Yeah?” She asked as Chloe teared up, gently pulling Beca to her feet.

“Ten minutes?” Chloe’s voice was barely a whisper. Beca just nodded, quietly setting the timer on her phone for ten minutes. Neither of them had to say it out told, but both knew if there was no timer they’d never let go.

Beca wrapped her arms around Chloe’s middle, head resting on her shoulder, Chloe hugging her as tight as physically possible. This was it, this was what they both needed to survive. Glimpses of normality, of what they could have had, had their lives not gone down this road. They stood there in their kitchen, and nothing else mattered, nothing else was important, nothing apart from each other and the sounds of their heartbeats.

Before Beca knew it, almost two months had passed, and the need to drink was waning to a point where it was almost manageable. But that didn’t stop her being incredibly nervous as she and Chloe were getting ready. Her hands shook as she went to tie up her hair in a messy ponytail, a soft knock at the bathroom door.

“You okay in their Bec?” Chloe’s concerned voice came from the other side of the door.

“Um, yeah. One sec.” Beca opened the bathroom door, hair still down, hands shaking still. There was a concerned look on Chloe’s face as the brunette smiled softly.

It was an unspoken rule in the apartment that if Beca had been alone too long, she had to check-in with Chloe or Aubrey depending on whether the vet-in-training was busy with work and school. No-one wanted Beca to slip, so when she was unusually quiet or isolated for long periods of time, one of them would check on her. And Beca had been in the bathroom for half an hour.

“Are you sure you’re up to this tonight?” Chloe asked seriously, a soft frown on her face.

“I think so… I just, I haven’t been around booze and people drinking since I got sober. And I know it’s Bella’s birthday party, and that there’ll be very little drinking, but… I’m really nervous that I’m not gonna be able to do this.” Beca sighed, leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom.

Chloe smiled softly, “Beca… you’re doing great, I’m so proud of you. And I’m going to be right there the whole time. I’m not drinking either, and before you say anything…” Beca had opened her mouth to protest, “I have an early class and then a six-hour shift at the clinic, so I don’t want to be drinking tonight.”

“You really think I can do this?” Beca asked quietly, looking up at Chloe, a soft vulnerability in her eyes.

“I really do.” Chloe nodded, “You’ve got this Mitchell.”

Beca grinned, a soft chuckle escaping her lips, “Thanks Beale.”

There was a quiet moment between them before Beca reached up to tie her hair back again, hands shaking a little less. Her nerves hadn’t quietened all that much but knowing that Chloe was going to be there made it a little less daunting.

“Alright, let’s do this.” Beca grinned, the two of them heading out of the front door.

Aubrey had woken up at five am, not because of an alarm that had been set or because Bella was awake. No, Aubrey had awoken because of the pounding in her chest and her sweat soaked t-shirt. It had been months since Aubrey had suffered from nightmares this bad, but the eve of her daughter’s birthday had brought back bad memories.

Running a hand through her hair, Aubrey quietly slid out of bed, careful not to wake her sleeping wife as she left their bedroom, quietly entering her daughter’s instead. Bella was sound asleep as the blonde smiled softly at her daughter, leaning on the edge of her cot.

“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since you turned my world upside down.” Aubrey whispered, tears in her eyes.

The images from her nightmare flashed in her mind’s eye as her hand tightened on the edge of the crib as she tried to centre herself. Aubrey loved her daughter and her wife with her whole heart, but recently all she could think about was the fact that she wasn’t there. She wasn’t there when her wife went into labour three weeks early. She wasn’t there when Bella had the chord wrapped around her neck. She wasn’t there when Stacie had started haemorrhaging. She nearly lost the two most important women in her life, and where was she? Prancing around on stage in Europe trying to relive her college years.

“I’m so sorry Bella. I swear, I will never miss an important moment ever again. Every school play, every sports game, every doctor’s appointment, graduation, college open day. I will always be here for you.” Aubrey stroked the side of Bella’s face, sniffing slightly.

Stacie stood silently in the doorway, not saying a word as she watched her wife. Her heart broke a little bit, knowing that Aubrey was still blaming herself for not being there. She’d tried to tell her time and time again that it wasn’t her fault, that she didn’t blame her for any of it, but she knew Aubrey.

“Hey.” Stacie mumbled quietly not wanting to wake her sleeping daughter, “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Aubrey whispered, wiping at her eyes with her hand, “Yeah I just wanted to sit with her for a few minutes.”

“I get that.” Stacie quietly walked into the room, snaking her arms around Aubrey’s hips and kissing her temple, “I love you Aubrey Posen. You are the best wife and mother in the world. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone but you.”

“I love you too.” Aubrey whispered, pressing herself against Stacie, her head resting in the nape of her neck. She wished she could believe her.

The birthday party was in full swing when Beca and Chloe arrived, a large proportion of the Bellas having made it. Jessica, Ashley, Cynthia-Rose, Flo and Lilly had all gotten time off to come and see their favourite niece. Emily was in Philadelphia for ICCA finals, Amy still stuck in Australia with her mom after she broke her hip, and Benji was doing an afternoon matinee and an evening show. Also there were Stacie’s parents and Aubrey’s too, as well as some of the mom’s and babies from the ‘Mommy and Me’ classes.

“I’m so glad you guys made it!” Stacie grinned as she opened the door, giving both of them a big hug as they entered.

“Are you kidding? We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Beca grinned back, Chloe close to her side as they made their way over to wear the Bellas were sitting.

“Hey guys! It’s good to see you.” Cynthia-Rose grinned, glad that both of them had made it given everything that had happened lately.

“Hey! I didn’t think the Air Force could spare you?” Beca grinned, sitting next to Flo as Chloe went to get them something to drink.

“I saved up some leave especially for this, there’s no way I’d miss it!” CR grinned, “We were all saying how guilty we feel that Aubrey wasn’t here when Bella was born… we feel kinda responsible for it.”

“Come on, none of that.” Chloe smiled as she passed Beca a lemonade, “Aubrey’s already kicking herself for it, she doesn’t need to hear us bringing it up too.”

“You’re right.” Flo nodded, “They’re such great mothers, none of it matters anyway.”

“Very true.” Jessica grinned, one hand in Ashley’s the other holding a glass of wine.

“Do you guys think about it? Having kids?” Flo asked, turning to the couple as Ashley grinned.

“Maybe. But we’re not even engaged yet guys, we’re waiting for Jess to finish her residency before we do anything like that.” Ashley was still grinning widely as Jessica kissed her cheek.

“I love you.” Jessica grinned, head resting on her girlfriend’s shoulder.

After an hour of chatting and catching up, Beca got to her feet, heading to grab her and Chloe another lemonade each. Chloe gave her a look, but she gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. She had this. As she was pouring their drinks, a tall gentleman in a suit and tie joined her, a warm smile on his face.

“Beca right?” He asked, the short brunette smiling warmly.

“Yeah, you must be General Posen.” Beca recognised him from the photos Aubrey had in the apartment. She shook his hand when it was offered to her, admittedly a little intimidated in the presence of the four-star general.

“My daughter speaks very highly of you y’know.” The general poured himself a whiskey as Beca tried not to focus on the golden liquid in his glass.

“R-really?” Beca forced a smile, hands tightening around the glasses in her hands.

“Yes. She says that if it weren’t for your talents the Bellas wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near the ICCA finals, nevermind on the winning streak that they’re on.” General Posen smiled warmly as Beca raised an eyebrow, a cocky grin on her face.

“Really…” Beca’s mind was suddenly off the alcohol in his hand as she found out how highly Aubrey thought of her.

“Thank you daddy…” Aubrey grimaced from behind him, noting the smirk on Beca’s face, “I think Bella wants a cuddle from her favourite grandaddy.”

The general bid Beca farewell as he went to find his granddaughter, Aubrey rolling her eyes at the smirk on her friend’s face.

“You are never going to let this go are you?” She sighed.

“What? The fact that my talents single-handedly saved the Bellas?” Beca grinned, an eyebrow raised in mischief.

“Oh shut up.” Aubrey rolled her eyes, going to grab herself a beer but pausing when she saw the look on Beca’s face, “Sorry, I can wait to do this.”

“No, no it’s fine.” Beca shook her head, “You’re not the one with an alcohol problem Bree, I need to get used to being around people who are drinking.”

“You’re doing great Beca.” Aubrey smiled, “Chloe says you haven’t missed a meeting, you’ve been at every therapy session… we’re all really proud of you.”

Beca grinned, blushing a little, “Thanks Bree… are you okay?”

“Yeah, why’d you ask?” Aubrey forced a smile, pouring the beer into a glass.

“I know you keep beating yourself up for not being here, but there’s no way you could’ve known it was going to go down that way.” Beca smiled softly, “You’re a great mom Bree, you both are. She’s so lucky to have you. Seriously.”

“Thanks…” Aubrey whispered, not looking at Beca.

“Try not to be too hard on yourself okay?” Beca put a hand on Aubrey’s arm.

“Can you imagine eight years ago being told we’d be stood in my apartment, supporting each other through some of the worst times in our lives?” Aubrey snorted, remembering how both of them had behaved when they first met.

“I’d have laughed in your face.” Beca chuckled, shaking her head slightly, “God we were dicks.”

“Yeah we really were.” Aubrey grinned.

About half an hour later, Aubrey found herself in the kitchen with Chloe. The blonde was trying to keep on top of the washing up in an effort to distract herself from the thoughts that she just couldn’t shake.

“Hey! Great party! Bella looks so cute in that floral print dress.” Chloe grinned, putting a hand on the small of Aubrey’s back as she leant against the sink to talk to her.

“Doesn’t she?” Aubrey grinned, not looking up from her task.

“Bree, talk to me, what’s going on?” Chloe asked, frowning softly. She’d noticed that Aubrey had been on edge all evening, darting round the room like a mayfly.

“I’m fine.” Aubrey forced herself to keep the fake grin on her face.

“You know, I watch you with Bella and I realise I’ve never seen you this happy.” Chloe was trying to tactfully address the issue without forcing Aubrey to verbalise it herself, “But more importantly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid as happy as Bella is.”

Aubrey sniffed slightly, her grin faltering a little.

“I consider myself as something of an expert in terrible parents.” Chloe grinned slightly, “And you’re not one of them. You’re quite possibly one of the greatest people I have ever known, and you’re a natural mother. It’s a role you were born to play. I cannot think of anyone better suited for it than you.”

Aubrey sniffed again, nodding slightly, “Thanks.” She whispered, eyes tearing up, “I’m um… I’m just gonna go to the bathroom.” She mumbled, pulling away as Chloe went to put a hand on her arm.

Chloe frowned slightly before walking over to Beca and Stacie who were with Bella, the young girl sat on Beca’s lap playing pat-a-cake.

“Hey.” Chloe got Stacie’s attention with a hand on her shoulder, “Bree’s in the bathroom, she’s really upset. I tried the best friend ‘you're a really good parent’ thing to try and reassure her but I think she needs wife level intervention right now.”

Stacie frowned as she turned to Chloe, “It’s not you. She’s been struggling all day, I should have tried to get her to talk to me about it sooner.” She sighed softly, “Will you and Beca keep an eye on Bella for me?” Stacie asked.

“Yeah of course.” Chloe smiled softly, sitting next to Beca on the sofa as Stacie headed for the bathroom, “You okay?” The redhead asked.

“I’m great.” Beca grinned, “I really am. Tonight’s been hard, sure. But I did it. I got through the party without having a drink, I sat with people who were drinking, and I did it.”

“I’m so proud of you.” Chloe smiled, gently stroking Bella’s head.

“Be-ha.” Bella cooed, pulling herself forward so her arms were around Beca’s neck, “Powd.”

Beca teared up a little as her and Chloe grinned, “Thanks Bella.”

Stacie knocked at the door of the bathroom before letting herself in to find Aubrey sobbing as she sat on the toilet, lid down, head in her hands.

“Oh baby…” Stacie whispered, shutting the door and kneeling on the floor next to her, stroking her back, “Please talk to me. Please tell me what’s going on. Let me help you.”

“I just- I-” Aubrey was sobbing uncontrollably, turning so her head was buried in Stacie’s neck, “I can’t help but think about how I missed all the important shit at the beginning, the most important shit, and for what? Look at all the awful things that happened because I decided to take the Bellas on the USO tour. Chloe is silently falling apart, Beca was shot and now she’s a recovering alcoholic, Amy’s hiding out in Australia with her mom because she feels so guilty about it all, and you were all alone in pain, both of you nearly died because of this one stupid attempt to reclaim my college years.”

“Stop it.” Stacie shook her head, pressing kisses up and down Aubrey’s neck, tears pouring down her own face, “It is not your fault, none of it, there’s nothing you could have done, no way you could possibly have predicted any of this.”

“Every time I see Bella, see you, all I can think about is that I’m not fit to call myself a mother, a wife. I look out there, at my family, and all I can think about is that I’m the one that put everyone in danger.” Aubrey sobbed, her whole body shaking with the force of it.

Stacie could feel her heart breaking as her wife blamed herself for all the tragedy that had befallen them and their friends. Aubrey may have rescinded her title as Bella captain when she left Barden, but she would always be their leader, and it was a heavy burden for her to carry.

“Listen to me.” Stacie gently lifted Aubrey’s head so that she was looking at her wife, “You Aubrey Posen are the love of my life. There is not a single person in this world that is more incredible than you. The reason that people listen to you, the reason that you will always be our captain, is because there is no-one in this world that we trust more to make the right decision. But there are things that even you cannot control, cannot predict. None of us knew that Bella was coming early, that I was going to have such a difficult labour, that Amy’s dad was going to turn up and be absolutely insane. All of the shit that has gone wrong since the USO Tour, it’s not on you. You are the one that kept everyone together, you are the one that got them home, you are the one that is getting Beca and Chloe through this awful patch. I am so proud of you baby, every day I wake up next to you and I cannot believe how lucky I am to have you as my partner. How lucky our daughter is to have you as her mother. Because there is no way either of us would be able to survive without you Aubrey.”

Aubrey lent in and pressed a soft kiss to Stacie’s lips, unable to find the words to express how grateful she was to have Stacie by her side. Their forehead’s rested against each other’s for a moment before Aubrey finally found her words again.

“How did I ever end up with someone as incredible as you Stacie Conrad?” She whispered, her hands resting on either side of Stacie’s neck.

“I ask myself the same thing every day.” Stacie smiled, gently kissing away the tear tracks on her face.

“Will I ever stop feeling like this?” Aubrey asked, green eyes glittering with tears.

“Yes. Because I’m going to make it my mission to make sure that every day you are reminded of how beautiful and incredible you are until you start believing it yourself.” Stacie cupped her face in her hands, a warm smile on her lips.

“I love you.” Aubrey mumbled, smiling her first real smile of the day.

“I love you too.” Stacie kissed her again, wanting to make sure that her wife knew exactly how much.

Three weeks later, Beca was still doing great, she was at every meeting and therapy session, she was thriving at work, and even living with Chloe was getting easier. She was still struggling with sleeping alone in her bed, with not being able to touch her, but their ten-minute rule was working. They’d implemented it twice since they’d decided on it; once the night they returned from Bella’s birthday party and Beca had needed her to hold her, emotionally raw from having to fight so hard to stay sober, the second a week and a half later.

Beca had gotten home to find a note on the kitchen table from Chloe. ‘Gone to clear my head. Will bring back pizza, C x’. A small grin appeared on her face. Beca knew exactly where she’d gone. Grabbing a couple of mugs and making coffee, she headed out of the front door, taking the stairs to the roof. Nudging the door open with her back, she walked out, finding Chloe looking out over the New York skyline, a cigarette in hand.

“Hey.” Beca smiled warmly, Chloe almost jumping out of her skin as she whirled round to see Beca.

“How did you-?” Chloe started.

“You’re not as subtle as you might think Chlo.” Beca grinned, handing her a cup of coffee, “I know you come up here to smoke when you’re stressed, everyone in the building smokes up here.”

“Huh.” Chloe half smiled, her eyes troubled.

“What’s up?” Beca asked, noticing the troubled look in her eyes.

“It’s stupid, I’ll be fine.” Chloe shrugged it off, taking another drag from her cigarette.

“If it’s bothering you this much it’s not stupid.” Beca frowned slightly, sipping her coffee.

“I’m just tired Beca…” Chloe sighed, shaking her head a little, “It’s been a long week.”

“What happened?” Beca frowned deeper, knowing that Chloe was keeping something to herself.

“I- I failed my finals. If I wanna become a vet, I have to retake the year.” Chloe’s voice was barely audible as she looked at the floor.

“Oh Chloe…” Beca sighed, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s Barden all over again Becs, I keep doing this.” Chloe was crying, her eyes anywhere but her best friend, “I’m such a screw up…”

“No, Chloe, you’re not.” Beca set her coffee down, tentatively putting her hand on her arm, “You are working so hard, and I’m so proud of you. You’ve been through hell lately, cut yourself some slack.”

“Ten minutes?” Chloe whispered, finally turning to look at Beca, eyes full of tears.

Beca said nothing, simply pulling out her phone and setting a timer before pulling Chloe into her arms, the cigarette extinguished under Chloe’s shoe. The redhead buried her head in Beca’s neck, sobbing heavily as Beca held her tight. The brunette shushed her quietly, running her hand up and down her back, kissing her head.

“You’re gonna be okay Chlo.” Beca mumbled into her hair.

Chloe just cried, trying to take comfort in the feeling of being in Beca’s arms like it was totally normal, and not something they had to time because otherwise they simply wouldn’t let go. She needed Beca like this, she was so stupid to let her go. But it was too important that Beca recovered, got heathy. Chloe couldn’t jeopardise that.

The alarm on Beca’s phone went off far too quickly, Beca reluctantly pulling back and giving Chloe a soft smile.

“Are you okay?” Beca asked, squeezing her arm gently.

“Not really. But I feel better than I did.” Chloe forced a small smile.

“I wish I could fix it for you…” Beca smiled sadly.

“Focus on you Beca, you’re doing so well.” Chloe picked up her coffee again, her back to Beca so she couldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

“Pizza on me?” Beca offered, trying to respect the boundaries that Chloe had put in place. She missed her so much that it ached, but Chloe needed time. So she’d take these little fragments where she could get them, and hope for better things. It was like being in college again, and Beca hated it. But it was what it was.

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Chloe smiled.

Beca was managing, and would have continued to, had it not been July 25th. Beca, given how busy she was, would have probably forgotten what day it was were it not for Facebook memories the day before showing her photos from the year before of the Bellas in Nice.

"Oh shit..." She mumbled, looking at the grins of her and her friends as they lounged on the beach, completely unaware of what was going to happen the day after. Fergus Hobart, the boat, the Cayman Islands. Aubrey getting shot, Chloe being hurt, Beca almost dying.

Beca closed her eyes, her breath shuddering as she felt a panic attack welling up inside. She closed the social media app and opened up her messages. Her instinct was to text Chloe, to ask her how she was feeling, but the brunette remembered that Chloe was at work until late, and with everything she had going on Beca wasn’t about to add to that. Instead, she texted Stacie, knowing that if she messaged Aubrey it might cause the blonde to panic and think she'd fallen off the waggon.

BECA: Has it really been a year?

The responding text didn't take long to come back.

STACIE: Yeah... I was hoping u'd be 2 busy 2 notice honestly.

BECA: When did u realise? That it had been that long?

STACIE: The day after Bella's birthday. I haven't said anything to Aubrey about it, but she def knows

BECA: How’s Bree? I know she’s had a rough time of it lately

STACIE: Tired. She’s taking tomorrow off, we both are. Just us and Bella

BECA: Sounds like a great plan

STACIE: How are u guys planning on keeping ur mind off things?

BECA: We’re both working, I have a huge project at work and Chlo’s pulling a double at the clinic, trying to get her lab hrs up before next yr. Keep an eye on Bree for us yeah?

STACIE: Of course, I promise. R u gonna be okay?

BECA: I think so. Only one way to find out...

STACIE: Call Bree if you're struggling yeah? That's what u wanted her to do remember?

BECA: Yeah. I will. I promise.

Beca put her phone down, deciding on an early night. Getting to sleep was easy enough, but once her eyes were shut the memories of last year were back in technicolour, like someone had set up a movie in her brain. She could all but feel the hands dragging her out of the van, the bite of the cable ties that kept her immobile, the smell of Hobart's beer breath as his hands squeezed around her throat. The moment that Chloe's head bounced off the corner of the table in the filthy motel room, the fear that made her blood run like ice through her veins, the pressure of the gun barrel on her spine. The mind-numbing, all-consuming, nauseating pain in her lower abdomen. And above all the pain, the fear, and the torment in Chloe Beale's gorgeous blue eyes.

Beca started awoke in a cold sweat at four am, breath coming in gasps, her t-shirt drenched, "Ahhh fuck..." Beca shuddered, running her hands through her hair. She instinctively reached under her mattress, swearing quietly as she remembered that there was nothing there anymore, "Breathe Becs. Just breathe..." Beca whispered to herself, pulling her knees to her chest. It took a few moments, but Beca got her breathing back under control again.

“Are you okay?” Chloe’s voice was quiet, but it echoed across the dark apartment from the direction of the bed.

“Yeah.” Beca mumbled back, untangling herself from her sheets, “I’m okay. I think I need a shower though, I’m drenched.” The brunette chuckled weakly, “I didn’t wake you up did I?”

“No. I was wide awake.” Chloe mumbled, “You go get a shower, I’ll make us coffee?”

“Sounds good.” Beca half smiled, walking over to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

Turning on the shower, Beca sat on the toilet for several moments, focused on the sound of the water falling into the bathtub and the soothing effect that the steam had on her. After a few minutes had passed, Beca clambered into the shower, letting the hot water centre her in an attempt to wash away the feelings of anxiety and nausea. It was twenty minutes later when Beca left the bathroom in a clean t-shirt and shorts, smiling gratefully as Chloe handed her a coffee.

“Thanks.” Beca grinned.

“No problem.” Chloe smiled back. There was a quiet moment between them before Beca shivered a little.

“Ugh, four am is always so cold…” Beca moved to go and get back under her duvet, a little surprised when Chloe followed her, setting her coffee down on the bedside table before climbing in next to Beca. Chloe’s fingers trailed under Beca’s t-shirt, the brunette’s heart pounding a little as her hand rested on the scar on her stomach.

“I’m sorry.” Chloe’s voice was barely above a whisper, “I just- I need-”

“It’s okay.” Beca placed her hand on top of Chloe’s, her other arm slipping around Chloe’s shoulder as the redhead lay her head on her friend’s shoulder. There was no timer set, both of them knowing that they needed more than that right now.

Because right now, a year on from the horrors of the Cayman Islands, regardless of what else had happened since, they needed to remind each other that they were still alive, they were still here. That they still needed each other. And that was okay, right now it was okay to be in bed like this whilst they tried to figure out how the hell they had gotten here.

It was only when Beca’s alarm went off at six am that they moved again, Chloe getting up as quietly as she’d gotten in next to Beca and heading to her own bed without a word. Beca let her eyes flutter shut for a second, her arms aching now Chloe wasn’t in them, before she reluctantly climbed out of bed to get ready for work. Once dressed, she picked up her phone, hovering near bed for a second, wanting nothing more than to climb in next to her and hold her until the memories in her head faded to nothingness. But she couldn’t. Work. She was going to work. That was her focus right now. Stacie had Chloe. So she was going to work. Her phone pinged and she picked it up, seeing it was Aubrey.

AUBREY: Hey, you okay?

BECA: Been up since 4. Nightmares. Well, memories technically. But I’m about 2 head to work, so hopefully that will keep me busy enough

AUBREY: Good. That's what you need today. Busy. I'll check in later, today's going to be really difficult Mitchell.

BECA: I know. R u okay?

AUBREY: I will be. I'm going to be busy too, and I've got Stace. Don't worry about me Beca, just look after yourself, and CALL ME if it's too much!

BECA: I will I promise. Thnx Bree

Beca threw her hair into a messy ponytail as she pocketed her phone, headphones on as she headed for the subway and to work.

Her workday had been normal; it was nice to be around people who didn't know why today was making her feel nauseous and shaky. She threw herself into her work, meetings with clients and an afternoon in the mixing room keeping her preoccupied. It was good. So why was she sat at a bar having a staring contest with the bottle of beer she'd ordered? Well, that was because no matter how hard she tired, all she could see and hear all day was Fergus Hobart. There'd be a white, tall, balding exec that had made her heart pound. There was the loud bang that made Beca jump out of her skin and her ears ring; she could have sworn that he was stood in the corner of the room, grinning cruelly as he waved his gun around "Sunshine, do you really think being in a public place is going to stop me hurting them?". Out of instinct then when she had finished work, almost on autopilot, Beca had found herself at the bar down the road from work.

What was she doing? Did she really want to go back here, because it wouldn't stop at one beer... but on the other hand, she didn't want to see or hear the things in her mind's eye.

Beca pulled out her phone and fired off a text:

BECA: I need you. I'm sorry

She sent the text along with the address for the bar she was at. She was going to be furious with her, and rightly so. How could she have been so damn stupid? Why would she even entertain the notion, throw all of it away?

AUBREY: Stay put. ETA 20 min.

"Shit..." Beca whispered. She didn't think she could go anywhere even if she wanted to, too afraid that if she moved anywhere it might drag her further into this hole she was digging.

Beca sat and stared for what felt like eternity, hoping that maybe the bottle of beer would simply vanish on its own. She sniffed as she could feel tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, sensing someone sit next to her.

“I don’t wanna do this. I don’t even know why I ordered it. I don’t know why I’m here.” Beca sniffed.

Aubrey said nothing, just sat and stared straight ahead, waving the bartender away when he came over to see what she wanted to order.

“My head is throbbing, my palms are sweaty, and my heart feels like it’s going to jump out of my chest. All I can think about is that fucking boat, that fucking man and his fucking gun.” Tears were starting to slip down Beca’s cheeks as she traced a pattern in the condensation on the beer bottle.

“I’m so tired of feeling all of this, and if I drink this I won’t feel it anymore. I won’t feel anything. It’ll be numb and I can pretend none of this happened. That I was never kidnapped and tossed onto a boat. That I was never beaten, and tied up, and shot.. It’s just one beer after all. One beer seems a fair price to pay for a little bit of peace and quiet inside my head. But do you know what the stupid part is?”

Beca scoffed, shaking her head, Aubrey still not saying a word. Unless Beca put that bottle to her lip, Aubrey wasn’t interfering.

“I’d do that all over again if it went that Chloe never had to go through it at all. I hate that she had to live like that, with that fear and uncertainty and pain. I hate that it didn’t get any better when she came to Barden until it went so badly wrong. I hate that she had to relive it all. And I hate myself for the way I acted.”

Beca bit her lip, Aubrey fighting back her own tears a little as she listened to her friend.

“God I feel so awful. I’m such an ass. I’m selfish, and stupid, and a total dick. Who reacts like that, who makes it all about them? Maybe you were right about me.” Beca let her left-hand rest on the bottle, Aubrey wincing slightly as she remembered the way that she had treated the young brunette when they first met.

“Maybe all those years ago you were spot on. I’m a screw up, and I’m self-absorbed, and I fuck up everything good in my life. I really am my father’s daughter aren’t I?” Beca smirked, sniffing slightly.

“I want to be numb. I want to not feel any of this anymore. But Chloe doesn’t get that, doesn’t get a reset button. She has to live with all of this, every day and here I am whining like a bitch, apart to throw away months of hard work over what? One bad day?”

Beca ran a hand through her hair.

“I hate them. Chloe’s family. I really hate them. Because they don’t deserve her, she’s incredible and strong and funny… and in any other situation she would have bounced straight back, been up and ready to fight again. But now?” Beca wiped at the tears pouring down her face with her hand.

“I hate this whole fucking situation, all of it. I don’t want to feel any of it anymore. The pain, the anxiety. The anger. The hatred. But at what cost? Because if I go back down this road again, I’m adding to the shit that Chloe has gone through. I’m no better than any of them if I do this to her again. To all of you again.” Beca put her head in her hands for a moment before sitting back, sniffing hard. She pulled out the money for her beer, threw it onto the bar and walked out. Aubrey got up and followed Beca out of the bar, an Uber pulling up just as she exited the bar. They rode back to Beca’s apartment in silence, Beca not once looking at Aubrey the entire way there. Not a word was spoken until they had entered Beca's apartment.

"Aubrey, I-" Beca started, cut off as Aubrey pulled her into a hug, catching her completely off guard, "Wha-"

"Today you were presented with alcohol, and you didn't drink it, you texted me instead. I'm so proud of you." Aubrey whispered in her ear, holding Beca tight.

"No... if you hadn't shown up... I would've..." Beca couldn't find the words, hot tears pouring down her face.

"Beca, you worked through all of that on your own. You made that decision all by yourself. It was all you. That's huge." Aubrey sniffed slightly, keeping Beca in a tight embrace.

"I shouldn't have even been there." Beca sobbed. Aubrey pulled back from the hug, cupping her face with her hands.

"Beca. Today of all days, give yourself a break." There were tears in Aubrey's eyes too, "You don't think I've been struggling today? You don't think my leg has been throbbing like mad, like some kind of memory of what happened? It is okay to feel weak today because every loud bang, every movement in your peripheral vision, every smell that seems out of place puts you back on that damn boat with that lunatic. Today you're allowed to have a weak moment, ESPECIALLY because you asked for help."

Beca felt a smile twitch at the corner of her lips as she sniffled, looking up at the blonde, "Thanks for rescuing me Aubrey..."

"You're my sister Beca, of course I did." Aubrey pulled Beca in for another hug as the brunette sobbed heavily into her shoulder, Aubrey crying a little too as they stood there in an embrace, comforting each other in their shared trauma.

"Do you wanna sit down for a sec?" Beca mumbled into her shoulder, realising that if Aubrey's leg was causing her an issue that her standing up for this long was going to be painful.

"I'm so glad you offered..." Aubrey let out a short laugh, her face a little pale as they pulled away from the hug, Beca letting Aubrey lean on her a little as they walked to the sofa, Aubrey sitting down as Beca went and put the coffee machine on.

“I hate them too.” Aubrey broke the silence that had settled in the apartment, “I wanna kill them for doing that to her. Tom too.”

A smile twitched at the corner of Beca’s lips, “I have a sneaking suspicion if we asked Lilly to, she’d never ask any questions and all our problems would be solved.”

Aubrey laughed as Beca handed her a cup of coffee, both of them sitting on the sofa.

“I really am proud of you Beca.” Aubrey lifted her head to look at Beca, a soft smile on her lips, “I have never been more glad to be wrong. Because I was, about you. Sure you were a dick when you first joined the Bellas, but you are quite possibly one of the sweetest, kindest, most selfless people I know.”

Beca sniffed slightly, meeting Aubrey’s eyes, “You have no idea how much that means to me Posen.” There was a moment of silence that passed between them, “I’m sorry I interrupted your day off.” Beca smiled softly.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You needed help, and that’s okay.” Aubrey smiled back.

“Still. You should get back to your wife and daughter.” Beca raised an eyebrow, “How are you doing?”

“I’m okay. Better than I was the other week.” Aubrey ran a hand through her hair, “I’ll get there.”

“I know you will.” Beca smiled.

“Do you and Chloe wanna come over for dinner?” Aubrey offered, “We’ll get a couple of pizza’s in, maybe put on a cheesy movie, just take everyone’s mind off things?”

“That sounds great.” Beca grinned, “Chloe’ll be home in like twenty minutes, we can wait for her and then all go over together?”

“Sounds like a plan. Where is she anyway?”

Chloe’d had nightmares almost every night since Christmas, so much worse, so much more vivid and real, so much more terrifying than they had ever been that Chloe was barely sleeping. The lack of sleep was having an impact on school, the redhead barely able to keep up with the workload, her grades slipping as she tried desperately not to sleep through her classes. It was so frustrating to her that after everything that she had been through to get away from all of her issues, to try and put her past behind her, that it still had this tight grip on her life that was stopping her from moving on.

Unlike Beca, she knew exactly what day it was without having to be reminded by anyone or anything, the vividness of her nightmares increasing as the anniversary drew closer. Chloe had been deliberately working late so that Beca would be asleep when she got home, the brunette a deep sleeper and less likely to be woken up if Chloe’s nightmares were really bad. She hated not sharing the same bed as Beca, longing to feel the brunette's arms wrapped around her waist, her head resting in the nape of her neck as if they were made to fit together, like they were two pieces of the same puzzle.

So, the morning of the anniversary, when she heard Beca wake up from a panic attack she knew what she needed. What they both needed. But when Beca’s alarm went off, Chloe had to force herself to move, knowing if she stayed any longer she’d never leave again. And she had to. Because clinging to Beca right now would just drag her down, and she was working too hard for Chole to bring her down with her.

Yet, as she lay there on her bed, tortured by the memories that didn't need her to close her eyes in order for them to repeat over and over, waiting for Beca to leave for work, she wanted to leap into her arms, wrap her legs around her waist, and cling to her like an infant.

Chloe sighed as the door of the apartment closed behind Beca, sitting up and rubbing her forehead to try and dissipate the headache that was threatening to turn into a migraine. Chloe walked over to her bathroom cabinet and opened it, taking the bottle of aspirin off the shelf, pausing after she took the cap off. It wasn't the first time that this thought had crossed her mind, each time lingering longer than the last. She gripped the edge of the sink, taking a deep breath to centre herself, before just taking one and quickly putting the aspirin back, the cupboard door shutting quickly. Chloe turned on the shower, washed up, and headed to the clinic for her shift, hands shaking with the effort of containing everything she felt.

That evening Chloe sighed as she sat in the library trying to work on some revision for a test. She’d spoken to the faculty at vet school and convinced them to let her resit her finals next month, so she was trying desperately to cram for them. Her phone bleeped with a text message from Beca:

BECA: Hey Chlo! x

CHLOE: Hey Becs, you okay? x

BECA: I'm good, tired but y'know... how r u? x

CHLOE: Tired too… this anatomy textbook is looking real comfy about now x

BECA: Well how about u pack that in and come home? Bree and I were just talking about us going over to theirs 4 dinner x

CHLOE: Wait Aubrey’s there??? Are you okay??? x

BECA: I’m fine, I had a moment but I’m ok, nothing happened I promise. Come home, let’s go have pizza and we can go cuddle Bella x

Chloe’s heart was pounding. Beca had almost fallen off the waggon. Thank god for Aubrey… but why hadn’t Beca called her? Sure, Aubrey was the person that Beca had asked to help her through this, but Chloe would have been there in a heartbeat. Did Beca not trust her anymore? Did she not need anymore?

CHLOE: Ok, I’ll be home in 20 x

BECA: Yesss! U’ve earned a break, u’ve been working really hard x

CHLOE: Thanks Becs. I’ll see you soon x

Chloe turned her phone screen off, headphones in as she tried to take her mind of things. Take her mind off the fact she was failing vet school. Take her mind off the fact that she was reliving every moment of the Cayman Islands beat for beat. Take her mind off the fact that she was clearly failing Beca too. But that didn't stop the memories that were constantly flashing through her mind, every movement, every noise, making every hair on her body stand on end. Making her chest pound, her palms sweat, her mouth go dry. She hated this. She just wanted it to be over. She just wanted to sleep. Instead, she went home to find Aubrey and Beca sat on the sofa, both of them turning to smile at her as she walked in.

“Hey Chloe! How was the clinic?” Aubrey asked.

“Long…” Chloe sighed, forcing a smile as she looked at her friend, “But it’s all good because I’m home now, and I get to spend the evening with my favourite niece.”

“And the rest of us?” Beca grinned, an eyebrow raised.

“Eh.” Chloe shrugged with a chuckle, “I just want a quick shower and a change of clothes, and then I’m ready to go.”

Beca nodded, watching as Chloe grabbed an outfit from the clothes rail and disappeared into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, Chloe emerged and the three of them took a cab back to Aubrey and Stacie’s.

It was the perfect night, the five of them enjoying each other’s company as they distracted themselves from had happened a year previously. It was as if they were back in college again, minus the cheap beer, and the conversation was easy. They talked about their careers, about Bella, about the cutest puppy that Chloe had treated last week, about Beca’s big work project, about anything other than the Cayman Islands as they all helped to distract each other.

It was later that night when Chloe offered to go and make them all another coffee that Aubrey finally got to talk to her alone.

“Are you okay Chloe?” Aubrey asked, a hand on her friend’s arm as she frowned in concern. Chloe had been a little detached all evening.

“Yeah. I’m just a little tired.” Chloe forced a smile onto her face as she tried not to flinch away from Aubrey.

“Is it Beca slipping? Because nothing happened. She bought a beer, she texted me, she talked herself through it and went home.” Aubrey reassured her.

“I just- I worry about her still y’know? Sure, she’s nearly three months sober and that’s amazing… but with all the stuff going on in her head still, with her still dealing with what happened… I just want her to be okay again Bree.” Chloe was grateful that the conversation wasn’t about her, able to keep the attention on Beca and not voice what was going on with her.

“I know. But today, listening to her talk through it… she’s not even mad about what happened to her anymore. Not to the same extent that she used to be anyway. She really is starting to get better Chloe.” Aubrey gently pressed her side into Chloe’s, “She’s more mad about what happened to you then she is about anything else.”

“What?” Chloe frowned slightly, turning to look at Aubrey, “Why?”

“Because she loves you. You’re the reason she’s doing all this. She doesn’t want to hurt you anymore.” Aubrey smiled softly, an arm around Chloe’s shoulders as she gave them a comforting squeeze.

“Oh.” Chloe whispered, the coffee machine beeping to indicate it was ready. She poured them all a cup, not knowing what else to say, Aubrey taking two of them and heading back to where Beca, Stacie and Bella were sat.

Chloe’s mind was racing as she joined them. Beca was thinking about the impact this had on her? Why? God, she was only making things harder for Beca, adding so much pressure to her recovery that she didn’t need. She should never have told her everything at Christmas. None of this would have happened had it not been for Chloe. It was bad enough that her past was dragging her down, but now it was taking Beca down too? How could she have done that to her? Maybe Beca was better off without her. Maybe they all were.

Chapter Text

The months started to pass by more quickly after July, Beca and Chloe settling into a familiar routine, one that was reminiscent of their college years. To Beca’s relief, Chloe seemed to be slowly healing too, more like her old self again. Beca had spent two weeks with her mom in Washington that August whilst Chloe re-sat her finals, and when she‘d returned, the bubbly, happy-go-lucky Chloe seemed to have as well. That didn’t mean that things weren’t rocky, both Chloe and Beca still struggled with night terrors, and although Chloe had passed her finals the second time (barely, but she wasn’t telling Beca that) the work for vet school was still incredibly stressful. Beca rarely saw her roommate as Chloe spent most of her time either at the clinic or on campus, and the brunette missed her more than she could explain.

Not that Beca had much time to miss Chloe though; now sober, Beca was excelling at work which meant more projects, more responsibilities, less time to worry about relapsing. Beca Mitchell was the most sought-after junior producer at Twilight Records, so much so that she earned a promotion, her own client list, a team of her own, and an office just for herself. She came home that night, practically vibrating with excitement.

“Hey Chloe! You home!” Beca called as she unlocked the front door, the redhead looking up from the table where she’d been studying.

“What’s gotten into you?” Chloe asked as she saw the wide grin on Beca’s face, a bouquet of flowers in one hand.

Beca had stopped on the way home to pick up two bouquets as a thank you; a huge one for Aubrey and Stacie (“I was promoted but I’m not made of money!” was her response when Stacie teased her for not buying them one each) and a slightly smaller one for Chloe. She knew she wouldn’t have gotten here without them.

“These are for you.” Beca gestured them dramatically at Chloe who frowned slightly as she got to her feet, a grin on her face.

“Why?” She asked, walking over to Beca.

“Because… I don’t where I’d be without you Chloe Beale.” Beca grinned as Chloe took them from her, sniffing them as she looked at Beca, still confused, “I certainly wouldn’t be the newest senior producer at Twilight Records.”

“You got the promotion?!” Chloe squealed excitedly, throwing her arms around Beca, the bouquet still in her hand.

“You bet I did!” Beca grinned, hugging Chloe tightly back. They stayed in the tight embrace for several minutes, not needing to call for it this time, enjoying the spontaneity, the easiness of the moment. Chloe eventually pulled back, hands on Beca’s shoulders.

“I am so proud of you!” She grinned, “This calls for a celebration! Ooo, how about we get the massive combo from the Chinese place that is absolutely way too much food for the two of us, but we can eat for lunch tomorrow? And there’s that bottle of sparkling cider in the fridge from when Aubrey came over last week?”

“Sounds perfect.” Beca grinned, “But what about your assignment?” She pointed to the papers on the table.

“Ah I’ve got another week before that’s due!” Chloe lied. She’d have to pull an all-nighter tomorrow to get it done in time, but that was okay. She didn’t really sleep much anymore, and Beca’s promotion was far more important, “I’ll order the food once I’ve packed it away, you should tell you parents and the Bellas, they’ll be so pleased!”

Beca grinned broadly, glad to have this version of Chloe back. She seemed almost normal again. Unlocking her phone as she flopped down on the edge of her bed she fired off the same text to two different group chats:

BECA: You’ll never guess who got the promotion!! THIS BITCH! Introducing Beca Mitchell, Senior Producer for Twilight Records

Her phone blew up as the group chats reacted to the news:


MOM: THAT’S MY GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!


MOM: Is that inappropriate??? Ah just pretend it’s a bottle of cola or something ;)

DAD: Beca that’s amazing news! I knew you could do it! Dad x

SHELIA: Oh Beca I’m so proud of you!!! You’re doing what you love and there’s nothing better!!! You’re amazing!!




FLO: This is the best news I’ve had all week :’) So proud of you!

STACE: We knew you had it in the bag Becs!!! Bree and I are taking you and Chlo for dinner next week to celebrate!



CR: That’s you told XD

AMY: You mean they let you be in charge of people Shawshank? Seems a little risky but okay…



ASHLEY: Lolllll XD

CR: How are you guys in sync when you’re on opposite sides of the country?!?!?!

JESS: We’re just that good ;*

ASHLEY: We’re just that good ;*

LILLY:  That’s just creepy…

Beca grinned broadly as she put her phone down, her heart warm with the support of her family. This really was a huge turning point for her. So why did it feel like she was still missing something. Beca watched as Chloe rang in their delivery order, arranging the flowers in a vase as she did so. That. That’s what Beca was missing. Chloe was back to her normal, perky self, yes… but there was something off about it, and had Beca not been fighting so hard to protect Chloe from her own problems, she might have seen the redhead falling apart at the seams.

After she hung up the phone, Chloe started playing one of Beca’s playlists from the Bluetooth speaker on the kitchen table, grinning widely as ‘Raise Your Glass’ started to play, pulling Beca to her feet as she danced to the rhythm.

“Come on Becs!” She grinned as Beca stood watching, “We’re celebrating!”

“I can see that.” Beca smirked, an eyebrow raised, watching Chloe dance.

“I don’t see dancinggg.” Chloe took Beca’s hand in hers, trying to get Beca to join her as her moves got goofier and goofier, more akin to dad-dancing than the choreography that Chloe was so good at.

Beca rolled her eyes as she relented, both of them dancing to her playlist as they waited for their dinner to arrive. It was moments like this that they both lived for; moments of normalcy, moments that hinted that maybe, just maybe there was something better on the horizon.

And so it carried on like this, small moments of happiness interspersed in their busy lives, moments that made both of them forget for a second just how badly things had gone wrong before this. September 22nd arrived before either of them noticed; Beca’s birthday. Beca Mitchell hated her birthday. Divorced parents, subpar cake, and being the unwanted centre of attention spelled Beca’s worst nightmare (or it used to anyway). Even when she was with the Bellas, the short brunette avoided celebrating it as often as possible, but Chloe would always find a way to throw a party despite Beca’s protests. Beca never really minded, because it was Chloe’s way of showing her much she cared, but this year she just wanted a quiet day to herself.

She’d been working non-stop since her promotion a month ago, delighted at all the extra responsibility they were trusting her with, but utterly exhausted from working so much and so hard. Thankfully, her birthday had fallen on her day off so Beca was looking forward to a lie-in and a day of Netflix binging. The first she got, woken at ten am by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and…

“Pancakes?” Beca mumbled sleepily as she lifted her head from her pillow, opening her eyes to see Chloe grinning as she brought over a tray for Beca.

“Yes Waffles?” She asked, head tilted slightly as she teased Beca.

Beca just rolled her eyes as she shifted herself so she was sat up in bed, Chloe gently setting the tray on her lap, perching on the edge of the bed, still grinning at Beca.

“Happy Birthday Becs.” Chloe smiled as Beca sipped her coffee, hungrily eyeing the pile of pancakes on her plate. God she loved Chloe’s pancakes.

“Thank you.” Beca replied, a soft smile on her own face as she began to tuck into her breakfast.

Chloe got up from the edge of the bed carefully so as not to accidently upset the tray on Beca’s lap, heading over to her bed, reaching under it as she pulled out two wrapped parcels. She brought them over before heading to the kitchen and removing several more packages all in different coloured wrapping paper from a cupboard.

“How many gifts did you get me?!” Beca frowned, a smirk on her lips, “And how did I not know you were hiding them in the kitchen cupboard?”

It was Chloe’s turn to roll her eyes as she brought the stack of parcels over to Beca, “They’re not all from me weirdo, the two I brought you first are, these are from the Bellas and your parents. They’ve been sending them for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been hiding them. And the reason you never found them is because I hid them in the cleaning products cupboard.” She raised an eyebrow as she set them down on the bed as Beca winced a little, trying to look as innocent as possible.

“Now, Amy’s won’t arrive for another few days because she sent it late, and Aubrey says Bella wants to bring the present over herself, so you’ll get that one later. But all the other ones are here!” Chloe grinned, sitting on the edge of the bed again, looking excited as Beca moved the now empty tray from her lap.

Pausing thoughtfully, Beca grabbed a squishy one, secretly saving the ones from Chloe until last. The label told her it was from her dad and Shelia, and when she ripped it open she found a leather jacket, grinning broadly as she held it up.

“Oh cool!” Beca exclaimed, “Look at all the zips and stuff, I’ve wanted one like this since I was a kid!”

“It’s so cute!” Chloe exclaimed, giggling as Beca’s face fell.

“No. It’s badass.” She frowned, pouting a little.

“Yeah, on anyone else. On you it’s cute.” Chloe grinned, teasing her.

“It’s my birthday, you’re not allowed to be mean to me.” Beca pouted, grabbing the rectangular box from her mom next as Chloe laughed.

In the box from her mom were a pair of Dr Martens high boots, red roses embroidered up the sides, Beca gasping slightly as she saw them.

“Oh my god I love these…” She breathed, “I’ve been looking at them for months.”

Chloe kept grinning, saying nothing. She was the one who’d told Ellie about the boots, Beca’s mom wanting to get Beca something she really wanted after such a tough year and working so hard, and Chloe had seen Beca admiring the boots on more than one occasion. She watched fondly as Beca unwrapped the gifts from the Bellas, wishing that seeing the brunette so happy and content would help her fell less hollow.

A sweater from Jessica, a new pair of jeans from Ashley, a six-pack of the newest ‘Go With The Flo’ juice flavours from the CEO herself, a scarf from Emily, a signed copy of the playbook from Benji’s (sold-out no less) production of The Last Five Years (‘To my favourite Cathy on her birthday, Love Benji xx’), a pair of Chinese Throwing Stars from Lilly, and a copy of Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming´ from Cynthia-Rose (‘I can’t be the only inspiring black woman in your life Mitchell!!! CR xxx’ the inscription read). Beca sat surrounded by the thoughtful gifts from her friends feeling a little overwhelmed. Yes, she hated her birthday, but when her family put this much thought into it, it was hard to remember why.

“Will you please open mine now?” Chloe begged, eager to see Beca’s reaction to them.

Beca rolled her eyes as she picked up the two perfectly wrapped parcels from Chloe, starting with the smallest of the two. Inside the wrapping paper was a small box. Beca carefully pulled off the lid, tears pricking at the corner of her eyes as she saw her gift; a silver pitch pipe with the words ‘Six Months’ engraved into the top. Beca looked up at Chloe who had tears in her own eyes.

“Today isn’t just your twenty seventh birthday Becs. It also marks six months since you got sober. I know your group doesn’t do chips and all that, but I wanted you to have something to mark the occasion.” Chloe smiled softly, “I’m so proud of you Beca.”

“I didn’t know you knew…” The brunette sniffed, “I wasn’t gonna say anything about it… you’ve been keeping track?”

“Of course.” Chloe frowned slightly, “I didn’t want you to think you were going through this alone.”

Beca sniffed again, a broad smile on her face as she looked from the pitch pipe to Chloe and back again.

“There’s still another one y’know.” Chloe grinned as Beca reached for the other parcel, carefully positioning the box with the pitch pipe in on her lap so it wouldn’t fall off.

With slightly shaky hands Beca pulled the wrapping paper off the other present, tears spilling down her cheeks as she saw what else Chloe had gotten her.

“Chlo… I love it.” Beca grinned.

It was a photo of the Barden Bellas the Christmas before the USO Tour, their first Christmas together after Aubrey and Stacie had gotten married, the newlyweds deciding to host a big family dinner just for them. The Christmas Stacie had told them she was getting IVF. Aubrey had wanted a proper family photo before they were joined by their future child so that she could show them who their family was, the people that they could depend on no matter what life threw at them. Whatever happened, these were the people that would always be there for her.

“You remember why Bree made us take that photo?” Chloe asked, smiling softly as she wiped at her own tears.

“Yeah…” Beca whispered, her thumb gently stroking the silver frame.

“Good. Because I’m giving it to you for the same reason. To remind you of the people who’ve got your back. The people that love you the most.” Chloe sniffed.

Nothing was said for a moment, Beca just staring in wonder at the gifts that Chloe had gotten for her. How had she come to deserve someone as wonderful as Chloe Beale in her life? Beca finally looked up from her gifts, gently and carefully moving them to her bedside table as she got out of bed and pulled Chloe to her feet, wrapping her arms around her tightly, burying her face in her neck.

“I love them Chloe. Thank you.” She whispered as Chloe hugged her back just as tight.

“You’re more than welcome. Happy Birthday Beca.”

The holiday season rolled around again leaving both Beca and Chloe more than a little apprehensive as they remembered what had happened the year before. Halloween was a non-event; Beca wasn’t sure she was entirely uncomfortable at a party with lots of alcohol yet and Chloe had a practical exam on the first of November so they both stayed home to watch scary movies instead, each perched on the end of their respective beds, the tv in between with a bowl of popcorn balanced on a chair in-between them. Beca was utterly engrossed in the movie, horror often being the only genre she would enjoy with relatively little complaint, and didn’t notice Chloe reaching for the popcorn at the same time. Their hands brushed and Beca could feel a tingle go through her whole body, the phantom memory of holding Chloe’s hand in hers making her heart pound. A light blush spread across Chloe’s face as both of them pretended not to notice, both hands retreating with a handful of popcorn and a tingling feeling not brought about by the horror film.

A week before Thanksgiving Chloe slammed into the apartment at half midnight with a groan of frustration, flopping down dramatically on Beca’s bed next to the half-asleep brunette.

“Bad day?” Beca mumbled as Chloe screamed into one of her pillows.

“Who knew trying to be a vet was this hard?!” Chloe exclaimed, rolling over so she was lay on her side, her expression one of sad exhaustion.

“I’m sorry Chlo… want me to make you a hot chocolate?” Beca offered, a sleepy smile on her face.

“With the little marshmallows?” Chloe seemed to brighten a little at the thought as Beca chuckled, sliding out from under her duvet to go and warm the milk. If she was making a hot chocolate to cheer Chloe up, she was going to do it properly.

She turned to ask Chloe if she wanted whipped cream too, remembering they had a bottle in the fridge, but as she opened her mouth she saw the slow steady breathing of her roommate and realised she’d fallen asleep on her bed. Beca smiled softly, going over to the sleeping form of Chloe and gently pulled her duvet over her after quietly removing her shoes so she’d be more comfortable. Once Chloe was settled, Beca paused.

Where was she going to sleep? The obvious answer was in her own bed, but Chloe had set boundaries for a reason, and Beca hated the thought that her crawling into bed next to her was going to make things difficult and uncomfortable for her. But on the same note she didn’t want to just crawl under the covers in Chloe’s bed because that felt equally as intrusive. So she settled on a compromise with herself; she would lay on top of the covers on Chloe’s bed and use her blanket for warmth. It wasn’t that cold yet, and this way she had somewhere to sleep that wasn’t the floor.

It was six am when Chloe woke up, stirring at least an hour before she had to, trying to remember when exactly it was that she’d fallen asleep. It was then that she realised that she was in Beca’s bed, and that Beca wasn’t. Frowning slightly, she sat up, running a hand through her dishevelled hair as she looked around the apartment. She spotted Beca curled in a foetal position on her bed, on top of the covers under her blanket. Chloe’s heart began to pound as she realised what Beca had done for her. God she didn’t deserve Beca Mitchell. Here she was sacrificing warmth and comfort, the opportunity to sleep in the same bed as the woman she loved again. Beca deserved better.

They spent Thanksgiving together with Beca’s parents again, this time at Ellie’s in Washington (“Hank isn’t the only one who can host Thanksgiving y’know!” was Beca’s mom’s response when the short brunette had broached the subject). With only three bedrooms at the Adam’s residence, Chloe and Beca would be sharing a room, but Beca’s mom had bought a camp bed for the occasion so as not to put any pressure on either of them to have to share a bed. Thankfully, this camp bed could be used for its intended purpose of sleep rather than a door barricade.

Thanksgiving morning, Beca found herself in the kitchen with her mom, both of them looking dishevelled and half asleep as they shuffled to the coffee machine.

“How’s the camp bed treating you?” Ellie asked. Beca had insisted on taking the camp bed whilst Chloe slept in her childhood bed.

“Great. I think I’d rather sleep on the sofa bed back in New York…” Beca grumbled, pouring herself a cup of coffee from the pot. She’d take Chloe one in a few moments, but she felt like she needed to have one herself before she tried taking anything upstairs.

Ellie simply smirked at her daughter as they both sat at the kitchen island, a moment of quiet passing between the mother and daughter, neither of them morning people.

“What’s going on with you guys?” Ellie finally asked the question that had been bothering her for months.

“We’re just friends right now.” Beca smiled reluctantly, a sad sigh escaping from her lips, “I love her mom, and I definitely needed time to sort my shit out, but… I feel like I’m in a good place. I’m seven months sober, I’m in therapy, I’m thriving at my job… I want her back. But I don’t wanna push her either. I know I messed up, not with the New Years thing necessarily, but with Christmas, with dealing with what happened in the Cayman Islands, I didn’t handle it very well and it definitely made things worse.” The young brunette ran a hand through her hair with a sigh.

“Christmas?” Beca’s mom frowned, hating being out of the loop with her daughter’s life like this, “What happened at Christmas?”

Beca bit her lip, shaking her head a little, “God… okay, you can’t tell Chloe I told you this. I’m serious mom.”

Ellie simply nodded, hands tightening around her coffee cup a little as her heart began to pound.

“So you know we went to Portland to see Chloe’s folks? Well it turns out that Chloe’s childhood was… awful. Her dad he’s… he’s a piece of shit.” Beca spat, eyes ablaze with thinly veiled anger as she tried to keep her anger in check, “You think my dad handled the gay thing badly at first? He has nothing on Jack Beale. Chloe ended up breaking down and telling me everything, about her childhood, about her first year at Barden, and it’s… it’s really bad momma…” Beca looked up from her coffee cup, tears in her eyes.

Her mom reached out and squeezed Beca’s hand tight, concern creasing every line in her face.

“Anyway, um after she told me I went to get her a glass of water and I was- I was really drunk. I’d had about two thirds of a seventy-centilitre bottle of honey whiskey, and when her dad got shitty with me I lost it. He…” Beca squeezed her eyes shut tight for a moment as she tried to centre herself, “He pinned me against the wall by my throat, and it took Chloe and her mom to get him off me. Then he gave Chloe choice; me or them. She picked me. And I spent the next three months proving that was the wrong call.” Beca shook her head, wiping away the tears that had started to fall.

“Jesus Beca…” Her mom sighed, gently taking one of Beca’s hand in each of hers, squeezing them tight as her daughter looked at her, “You have to tell me these things. Thanksgiving is not the holiday for finding out terrible things that happened to my daughter.” She joked weakly as Beca rolled her eyes.

“Chloe did make the right call sweetie. The fact that you were ill, and you were suffering too doesn’t change that. You are the right decision here Becs. No-one has ever loved that girl as much as you do, and that’s fucking awful. But she has you now. She has all of us.” Ellie promised, pulling Beca in for hug as her daughter sobbed quietly.

Beca’s mom didn’t need the gory details to know that Chloe had been through hell; it was written in every line of her when she’d seen her for Beca’s intervention, and again when she’d shown up for Thanksgiving. There was no way that she was letting Beca carry this alone anymore. Chloe needed a proper family, and that’s what they were going to give her, whether she was Beca’s girlfriend or not.

“Everything okay?” Chloe mumbled sleepily as she entered the kitchen, Beca quickly wiping her eyes and turning to smile at the redhead.

“Yeah, bad dream is all.” Beca smiled, getting up to make Chloe a coffee, the redhead frowning slightly.

“You okay?” She asked, looking from Beca to her mother who smiled warmly at her.

“Yeah. I’m fine, I promise.” Beca handed her the coffee they had just made her, “I just didn’t want to wake you that’s all, and mum was up.”

“Okay.” Chloe smiled softly. She wasn’t entirely convinced, but it was the holidays, and she wasn't going to start anything. She wasn't exactly surprised that Beca didn't trust her; she wouldn't either.

A few hours later, Beca and Chloe were in the kitchen, making a start on the food prep as her mom went to get some of the things she needed from the pantry. Beca switched on the radio rolling her eyes as ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ began to play, reaching over to switch the station, Chloe stopping her.

“No, leave it, I love this song!” Chloe grinned as Beca sighed.

“Really?” She groaned.

Chloe said nothing in response, simply singing in time: “Don’t go breaking my heart.” An eyebrow raised at Beca who rolled her eyes again.

“I couldn’t if I tried.” She responded, less enthusiastically than Chloe.

“Oh honey if I get restless…” Chloe continued, hips swaying a little as she continued to peel carrots, passing them to Beca without needing to look up.

“Baby you’re not that kind.” Beca couldn’t help grinning despite the cheesiness of the song, chopping in time with the beat.

They continued to sing, moving around each other in the kitchen as if it was a well-rehearsed dance, neither needing to say a word as they just did what they did every time they were in the kitchen, it so natural that neither one of them thought of it as strange or something to comment on.

Hank Mitchell and his second wife Sheila stood in the doorway of the kitchen, watching them with bemused smiles on their faces. Ellie joined them, a bag of potatoes in her hand.

“What?” She asked, not seeing the pair at first as the two onlookers blocked her view. Hank simply nodded in the direction of his daughter and her friend, still grinning.

Ellie smiled broadly as she watched them, shaking her head softly.

“Do you think that they know they’re still dating?” Hank asked, leaning against the doorway.

“No.” Ellie grinned, “They’ll figure it out eventually. But right now I say we leave them to their ignorance.”

“I’m okay with that.” Shelia laughed lightly, “They look happy…”

“Yeah… it’s the least they deserve.” Ellie sighed softly, “Whilst Sonny and Cher are preoccupied, I need a word with you two. Beca told me some stuff today, and… well, I’ll give you the details another time, but Chloe needs a family. I think we need to step up, give her that family. No matter whether her and Chloe ever properly get back together, that girl needs someone in her corner.”

“I’m good with that.” Hank nodded, a serious look on his face.

“Me too.” Shelia nodded, Ellie smiling at them both.


The Thanksgiving weekend was over and Chloe and Beca were back in New York, resuming their daily lives as normal on the run up to Christmas. Chloe, on the outside, was getting excited about the holiday, buying a small tree for the apartment (much to Beca’s protest because their apartment was already a little cramped without adding foliage to it) and decorating it and any other surface that she could with Christmas decorations. Inside however, Chloe was falling apart. Her mind kept reliving the events of the previous Christmas, Thanksgiving reminding of her of the family she didn’t have (despite the best efforts of the three parents to make Chloe feel like she belonged there with them). Vet school was getting on top of her again, Chloe having to apply for extra credit after she failed two class credits and desperately long hours at the rescue clinic in the hopes that lab time and practical experience would make up for her poor written assessment grades.

It was on a particularly cold Tuesday the last week of term that Chloe found herself in a coffee shop near campus, an hour to kill between her last class and her shift at the clinic. The redhead wanted nothing more than a hot coffee and to sit in a quiet corner and let her brain rest. Yet, as she took her to-go cup from the cashier and went to settle herself at a table, she froze to the spot, colour draining from her face as her eyes fell upon a face that she hadn’t seen in nearly twelve years. They had seen her too, the look of surprise on their face less haunted than Chloe’s.

“Chloe?” A small grin appeared on their face as they gently pushed through the crowd at the coffee shop.

“J-Jenny...” Chloe stammered, looking as if she’d seen a ghost.

“Oh my god, what’re you doing here?” Jenny asked as she reached her, pulling her into a warm hug. Chloe hesitantly returned, still not sure it wasn’t just a bad dream.

“Um, I got to the vet school over there. What’re you doing here?” She mumbled as they pulled back, her heart pounding.

She hadn’t seen her former best friend since their high school graduation, Jenny graduating top of their class to no-one’s surprise. Why was she here? What kind of cruel cosmic joke was this?

“I’m in the city for a few days as a guest lecturer. I thought you went to Georgia?” Jenny asked, a grin still wide on her face. She’d always wondered what had happened to Chloe, hoping that whatever it was, wherever it was it was far happier than her life in Portland.

“I was. I moved to New York with a couple of friends when we all graduated.” Chloe forced a smile onto her face. How could she make small talk with Jenny after everything that had happened?

“Do you have time to sit down and catch up?” Jenny asked, “It’s been way too long Chlo.”

“Uh, sure. I have a shift at the rescue clinic in like an hour, but I’ve got time to kill until then.” God what was she doing? Having a conversation with an old friend from high school under normal circumstances was one thing, but having a conversation with Jenny felt… wrong. Her father may not be here, but that didn’t mean that Chloe didn’t feel terrified at the thought of someone catching her talking to the sandy-haired girl from her past.

They sat down at a vacated table, a moment of awkwardness passing before Jenny stared to make conversation.

“So vet school? That’s great, you always loved animals!” She grinned.

“Yeah it’s great. A lot of work and long hours, but I’m loving it.” Chloe smiled falsely, fiddling with the edge of her sleeve as she tried to suppress the panic attack she was having, “What are you lecturing on?”

“The relationship between radar cross section and optical magnitude based on radar and optical simultaneous observations of faint meteors.” Jenny smiled proudly, “Y’know, space science.” The grin on Jenny’s face was more contagious than Chloe had realised as she laughed lightly.

“You always did love space science.” She chuckled, her stomach twisting in knots, “Listen… about high school-”

“It’s fine.” Jenny stopped her with a soft smile, “I realised a long time ago that you probably didn’t have much choice about it.”

Chloe gasped softly, her eyes falling to the table. She knew? How? Did they all know? Did they all know what she let happen to her?

“Oh.” She whispered, hands tightening a little around the to-go cup.

“Chloe it’s okay.” Jenny’s voice was low so as to keep their conversation as private as possible, “We don’t need to say anything else about it okay? Just know that I don’t blame you for any of it.”

Chloe nodded slightly, sniffing as she held back tears. She felt Jenny put a hand on her arm, jumping a little but not pulling away.

“So um, where do you live now? If you’re only visiting New York?” Chloe asked, trying to change the subject to more superficial things. There was no way that she could carry on this conversation otherwise, there was so little holding her together as it was.

“Cambridge in Massachusetts.” Jenny was grinning again, clearly proud of what she’d achieved, “I’ve got a tenure position at MIT.”

“At 30?” Chloe exclaimed, a look of impressed shock on her face, trying desperately to hide the way that it felt like a knife to the gut, “Jenny that’s incredible.”

“It kind of is isn’t it?” Jenny laughed.

“I always knew you were gonna be amazing, but this is something else.” Chloe smiled. Of course Jenny was doing amazing whilst she was barely holding it together.

“Did I hear that you were part of the Barden Bellas? The a cappella team that took the world by a storm?” Jenny asked, “My wife loves you guys!”

“Your wife?” Chloe asked, feeling as though she’d been smacked across the face. Of course Jenny was married. Why wouldn’t she be? It wasn’t even like Chloe harboured any feelings for her anymore… so why did it hurt so much to hear that her former best friend was thriving?

“Yeah… she’s a history professor at Harvard.” Jenny’s smile was one of genuine love and pride as she thought of her wife, “She’s amazing Chloe, you’d love her. And we have a son, Alfie, he’s so cute.” Jenny pulled her phone out of her pocket, easily finding a photo of her and her family and showing it to Chloe.

Chloe felt her guts twist even tighter as she looked at the happy family of three, all of them in matching Red Sox jerseys and hats. The picture-perfect family. A clear example of what happens when your parents are loving and supportive and life doesn’t persistently fuck you over.

“He’s gorgeous…” Chloe grinned, tears pricking the corners of her eyes, “They both are Jenny. I’m so glad you’re happy.”

“I am.” Jenny mused as she put her phone back in her pocket, “They’re the best thing that ever happened to me. But what about you? You must have people falling over themselves to date you.”

Chloe chuckled, “No I- it’s complicated.” She forced a smile, reluctant to bring up Beca. God how could she tell Jenny that she’d had to put her relationship on hold because one of them was a recovering alcoholic and the other was completely falling apart after they had spent years pining and worrying about unrequited feelings, when Jenny was sat there with the perfect family?

“I don’t really have the times for dating right now, vet school keeps me way too busy. Oh, but I do the most gorgeous god-daughter!” Chloe pulled out her phone as she looked for a photo of Bella to show Jenny, holding out her phone to show her, “Her name’s Bella, she’s my friend’s daughter.”

“Oh she’s so cute!” Jenny cooed.

“I know…” Chloe smiled, happier to talk about Bella than herself, “She’s eighteen months old and already so much like her moms.”

“Oh with those eyes? I bet she has all of you wrapped around her little finger!” Jenny laughed as Chloe put her phone away again.

“God yes!” Chloe chuckled.

The conversation flowed superficially for another thirty minutes before Chloe looked at her watch.

“Oh, I have to go… my shift starts in ten minutes.” Chloe mumbled, a little relieved to have an excuse to leave.

“Oh no… listen, this is the last day I’m in the city, but I’d really hate for us to lose touch again.” Jenny smiled warmly as she pulled a business card from her wallet, handing it to Chloe, “Here, my email is on there, it’s the easiest way to reach me.”

Chloe took it and forced a smile as she slid it into her pocket, both of them getting to their feet as Jenny pulled Chloe into another hug.

“It really was great to see you Chloe.” She said, giving her a gentle squeeze.

“You too Jenny.” Chloe tried to swallow the lump in her throat as she hugged her back, pulling away and grabbing her bag, waving her goodbye as she left the coffee shop.

Her heart was pounding. Of all the people that she didn’t want to see again, Jenny was very high on that last. It would have been one thing to see her sad and broken down, but to see her so happy, so successful, to see her thriving like this? Especially when Chloe herself was so broken? That was harder, and Chloe hated herself for feeling like that. Of course Jenny deserved to be happy, how could she hold that against her? What kind of awful person was she to be mad at her for that? Yet all she kind think was: ‘It isn’t fair.’ It wasn’t fair that Jenny’s parents had been so loving and supportive of their daughter whilst her parents weren’t. It wasn’t fair that Jenny had gone to college and grad school in the time it had taken Chloe to graduate Barden. It wasn’t fair that she was thirty years old with a job for life, a wife and son, a whole life mapped out in front of her whilst Chloe had no-one and nothing to show for thirty years of existence. She hated Jenny for doing so well. And she hated herself for hating Jenny.

Swallowing hard, Chloe walked the short distance to the clinic, her mind replaying the conversation over and over again as she fought back the tears and the hollow feeling that threatened to consume her.

Working at the rescue clinic didn’t have the same excitement for Chloe as it did when she first started, becoming less about playing with cute animals and more about the depressing reality of pet ownership in New York. Today was no exception to that, and with her conversation with Jenny running through her mind, the hollow feeling in Chloe’s chest weighed on her like a tonne of bricks. She just wanted to go home, get into bed, and not wake up again. It was too hard; vet school, her relationship with Beca, the memories of her past, all of it. She just wanted it to stop. Wanted the never-ending feeling of emptiness, the ache in her chest, the gnawing guilt to stop. Even for just five minutes, all Chloe Beale wanted was peace.

“Chloe? Are you still with us?” Her boss asked as he looked at her, a small frown on his face.

“Hm? Yeah. Sorry, long day.” She smiled weakly.

“Well it’s almost done.” He smiled, “But our last patient for today isn’t a happy note to end the day on I’m afraid.”

“Oh no.” Chloe sighed, “That cat that was brought in yesterday?”

“Yeah. She’s in the end stages of FIV, the poor thing is in so much pain that it’s more cruel to try and treat her.” The vet shrugged, handing Chloe the chart.

“Poor thing…” Chloe sighed, leafing through the notes as she shook her head.

“Have you done one of these solo yet?” He asked.

“No.” Chloe shook her head.

“Why don’t you take this one then? You’ve assisted me with it enough times, and unfortunately this is something you’re going to have to do a lot.” He smiled sadly at Chloe, wishing the realities of his job were different.

“Uh, sure. Can’t say I’m thrilled about it, but I’m sure I can manage.” Chloe forced a smile as the vet nodded, leaving momentarily to collect the suffering feline as Chloe gathered the things she’d need.

“Here we are.” The vet smiled as he brought the cat into the treatment room, “The nurses named her Elizabeth, they wanted her to have a regal name.”

Chloe scoffed slightly shaking her head. Today really was just a big cosmic joke wasn’t it?

“What?” The vet asked, a confused look on his face.

“Nothing. It’s just… my middle name is Elizabeth.” Chloe gave him a tired smile as she let the cat out of the carry box, now gloved up as she gently stroked her head.

“Oh. Maybe it’s a sign. That you two were meant to meet or something?” The vet chuckled a little, “I can stay and supervise if you want?”

“No… we’ve got this haven’t we girl?” Chloe smiled at the cat as she stroked the length of its body, the poor creature letting out a rather pitiful meow, “You go and finish the paperwork that’s been piling up. Maybe you’ll actually get home to Carol and the kids at a decent time tonight.”

“That would make a nice change…” He mused, “Alright, come let me know when you’re done so we can put it in your log before you go home.”

Chloe nodded as he left the room, moving the carry box onto a free unit so there was more space. She spent a few moments simply stroking Elizabeth, who even with her patchy, dull grey fur and cataract plagued eyes was majestic and beautiful.

“It’s alright sweet thing. It’s almost over. You’re going to feel so much better soon.” Chloe whispered as the cat meowed sadly, lay on her side, unable to do anything else at this point.

Sighing, Chloe picked up the vial of pentobarbital, piercing the lid with the syringe and filling it. She stroked Elizabeth’s head again as she inserted the needle.

“I’m so sorry sweetie. You’ve had such a rotten life. I hope things will be easier for you now.” She whispered as she squeezed the plunger.

Chloe watched as the cat relaxed, all the tension she had been holding in her limbs releasing as the redhead continued to stroke her, a soft purr coming from her throat as she started to lull to sleep. Chloe could have sworn she saw a smile on her lips as she lost consciousness, her breathing becoming slower as she slipped away, easily and painlessly, all her pain and sadness gone.

Chloe’s breath hitched in her throat. Maybe this was a sign. A way to make to it all stop. Because right now, Chloe would give anything to feel like that; to feel that peace and serenity of knowing that there wouldn’t be any more pain, any more sadness to come. Just… nothingness. Freedom. Freedom from all of this pain, this heartache, this hollowness, this feeling of never being good enough. Chloe hated her life. So why not take this way out that had been laid before. The answer to all her problems. The opportunity for… peace.

Without really thinking about it, Chloe opened the locked cabinet with the controlled drugs in it again, removing another vial of the pentobarbital and a clean syringe, slipping them into her pocket. A sense of calm washed over her as she stood for a moment in the treatment room, a sense of finality to all of the awful things that plagued her. She gently stroked Elizabeth’s head again, the cat now still, all the suffering gone from its small frame.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

Chloe knew that their apartment would be empty. Beca had a day off and had agreed (however reluctantly) to babysit for Stacie and Aubrey when their nanny had called in sick, both her moms having work commitments that they simply couldn’t get out off. When she opened the door and stepped into the room, it had a different feel to it than normal. A sense of homecoming, a warmth that she hadn’t felt in so long that came with the knowledge that the pain was going to stop.

She trailed her fingers along the edge of Beca’s bed, a soft smile on her lips as she picked up the discarded hoodie, slipping it on. She loved Beca, that was the only thing in all of this that had been certain. Beca was the most important person in her life, her recovery going so well because she was the strongest person she’d ever met. And now she wouldn’t have to worry about Chloe dragging her down, because Chloe was going to fix it. She was going to make it stop.

Reaching the kitchen table, Chloe pulled the vial and the syringe from her pocket, gently setting them on the table. She stood for a moment in her apartment, looking around at the place she called home. The clothes rail that she shared with Beca were her favourite dress hung; the fluffy blanket on her bed that Beca had gotten her back in college for Christmas; the giant teddy bear in the corner next to Beca’s bed that they had both grown to love; the photos on the tv stand of her with her family, the people that loved her the most. This was her home. What better place for all of her pain to stop than here?

She picked up one of the photos from the tv stand, a photo of all of them at The Lodge of Fallen Leaves after she’d taken them there to ‘find their sound’. Chloe smiled down at her friends, carrying the photo to the table and sitting in front of the items that she’d laid out. They’d understand wouldn’t they? That this was the answer to everything that she’d been going through? Her way out of all the pain, the guilt, the hollow emptiness that consumed her? Closing her eyes, Chloe thought back to that night around the campfire.


“It’s just everything’s moving so fast and I’m putting so much pressure on myself y’know? I don’t wanna fail…” Beca smiled softly, her hair loose and framing her face as the campfire illuminated her features, a tartan blanket on her lap.

“If you just would’ve said something-” Chloe shook her head.

“I know, but I’m weird about that stuff. I thought I could figure it out on my own, but I can’t…” Beca’s sheepish grin put Chloe at ease a little, smiling at the young brunette as she complimented Emily.

Beca was always going to be great, there was no doubt in Chloe’s mind about that.

“I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I’m afraid too.” Chloe heard herself say. It was weird vocalising this out loud, but if she couldn’t tell the Bellas, her family, who else could she tell, “To move on. To graduate. It’s really scary.”

She felt Aubrey put a hand in the small of her back, a subtle gesture that reassured Chloe that she knew why she’d chosen to stay at Barden so long. That Barden seemed like her only option other than moving back home.

“It doesn’t have to be scary Chloe!” Aubrey grinned, “When I was graduating I would never have pictured myself running a retreat in the middle of the woods but… here I am!”

She placed her hand on Chloe’s arm when she saw the flash of panic on her face, giving it a gentle squeeze, “Take it from somebody with someone who has dealt with some… serious control issues…” Aubrey winked at her, knowing it wasn’t the same thing, but trying to reassure her all the same, “Like my dad always said, in the minefield of life you must be prepared to lose both feet.”

Chloe smiled gratefully, tears in her eyes as the Bellas all dwelled on what would be happening after graduation, Chloe only half listening as her eyes wandered to Beca, their stupid fight long forgotten. She felt grounded as their eyes met, a soft smile on Beca’s face, almost as if she felt the same way Chloe did.

“You know when I look back on this, I’m not gonna remember performing, I’m gonna remember you weirdos. It makes me sad to think it won’t ever be like this again.” Beca looked down at her feet, never good at displaying her emotions so openly.

The redhead simply grinned before singing:

“I got my ticket for the long way round…”

“Two bottle o’ whiskey for the way.” Beca joined in, both of them tearing up as the other Bellas joined in.

“And I sure would like some sweet company/ And I’m leaving tomorrow what do you say?”

Beca looked at Chloe, Chloe looked at Beca, four years of unspoken feelings in their eyes, Chloe’s heart pounding as Beca sang:

“When I’m gone.”

“When I’m gone/ When I’m gone/ When I’m gone/ You’re gonna miss me by my hair/ You’re gonna miss me everywhere/ Oh you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” The Bellas finished the song together, soft grins on everyone’s faces.

Chloe grinned at Beca. Yes, graduating was scary. But with Beca by her side there was nothing she couldn’t do.


Tears slipped down Chloe’s cheeks, a sad smile on her face. How naïve she had been to think there was a way to escape her past. No way but this. The Bellas would understand. Aubrey would understand. Beca would understand. The way she felt right now was too much for one person to handle, and she was not about to bring them all down too. She loved them too much for that. Pulling her phone from her pocket, she hovered over Beca’s contact details. This was the right decision. So why was the thought of saying goodbye to the woman that she loved more than anything so hard?

Shaking her head slightly, she clicked on Stacie’s instead, sending her a message that seemed short but was all that she really needed to say, before setting her phone down on the table, hands crossed in front of her.

She was so ready for the pain to stop.

Stacie’s phone buzzed as she sat in a taxi on her way back to her apartment. She’d had an excessively long day at the office and was looking forward to nothing more than getting home, soaking in the bath, and spending some quality time with her wife and daughter. She clicked on the notification, frowning a little as she read:

CHLOE: Tell them I’m sorry. I love them so much, and I’m sorry x

Stacie could feel her heart pounding a mile a minute in her chest, her ears ringing. ‘Oh God Chloe no…’

“Excuse me? I need you to turn around, I need to go somewhere else.” Stacie quickly reeled off Beca and Chloe’s address, her voice tight as she tried to quell the panic in her chest.

It was going to be okay. This was a misunderstanding. Chloe was going to be okay.

STACIE: Stuck at the office a little longer… will be home as soon as I can! Xx

Stacie quickly texted Aubrey. She hated lying to her wife, but she saw no sense in alarming her until she knew more. She clenched and unclenched her hands, the journey to their apartment building seeming like it took an eternity.

‘Please God don’t let me be too late…’

Aubrey frowned a little as she got Stacie’s text, having only just reached their front door herself.

AUBREY: Don’t work too hard! We love you xxx

Aubrey let out a soft sigh as she unlocked her front door, glad to be home after a long day. What met her eyes when the door made her sigh a little louder.

The apartment, usually neat and tidy, was in a state of disarray, Bella’s toys everywhere, Cheerio’s scattered across the kitchen floor, a trail of kitchen towel hanging from the holder on the kitchen side. An exhausted looking Beca gave her a triumphant grin from the couch.

“I did it! I looked after Bella all by myself!” Beca lazily threw up her arms in triumph.

“And the apartment?” Aubrey asked, eyebrows raised as she looked around at the mess.

“Unfortunate casualty.” Beca shrugged, hauling herself to her feet, “Bella went down for a nap ten minutes ago, I was gonna clean it up.” She smirked, heading to the coffee machine as Aubrey looked around the apartment, her skin itching a little, “Coffee?”

“Oh yeah.” Aubrey half smiled, gingerly stepping around the mess to sit at the kitchen table, “Maybe I should’ve asked Chloe to take the day off and help you after all…”

“Hey, Bella is alive, clean and fed. I’m calling that a win.” Beca protested as she poured them both a cup, grabbing the brush from next to the fridge as she started to sweep up the mess on the kitchen floor, “Besides, Chlo had back to back classes and then a shift at the rescue clinic today. Though I’m sure she’d find some excuse for Bella.”

“That is true.” Aubrey chuckled, “Sometimes I worry Chloe loves her more than Stacie and I do…”

Beca laughed as she shook her head, sweeping the mess into a dustpan before she looked to Aubrey again, “She’s doing better Bree. I haven’t seen her this happy in so long.”

“Really?” Aubrey couldn’t help but be a little surprised. So much had happened that her friend hadn’t dealt with, so much that was bothering her.

“Yeah. She’s like college Chloe, that happy, bubbly weirdo I fell in love with.” Beca grinned, a light blush on her cheeks as she tided away Bella’s toys in the living room, “I dunno, it just feels like I’m getting her back…”

“Oh Beca…” Aubrey ran a hand through her hair, her stomach dropping, “Is she bouncing around the apartment like a Labrador on acid, putting off all the things she needs to do so she can do stuff that makes her happy?”

“Well… yeah.” Beca’s smile faltered as she looked up at Aubrey from where she was crouched on the living room floor, “Why?”

Aubrey bit her lip, “That’s what she was like in Barden when we first met. Her whole freshman year in fact.”

Beca had stood up to put the toys in her hands away, but hearing Aubrey’s words she sat on the couch, pale faced and shaken, “You mean this is… she’s… oh god how could I have been so STUPID?!”

Aubrey got up from the kitchen table and went to sit next to Beca, “You are not stupid Beca, when you’re in the thick of it, when you see it every day, of course you’re not going to see it as anything other than Chloe feeling better.”

“I’ve been so wrapped in trying to stay sober… how could I have missed this Aubrey?” Beca put her head in her hands as Chloe’s behaviour over the last few months suddenly made sense.

“Beca. You had to focus on getting sober, on getting better. You are allowed to have missed this because all your energy was needed to drag yourself through the last nine months. Chloe… she knows that. That’s why she’s been masking how she’s feeling.”

“What do I do now Bree? If she doesn’t feel like I’m strong enough for her to feel her feelings around, how do I show her that I am?” Beca ran both her hands through her hair, biting her lip. She hated this, hated the idea that Chloe thought she was too fragile to handle this.

For anyone else she might have been. But for Chloe Beale, the woman who had been her rock, her guiding light for so long? For her she could be strong enough. Besides, she really was doing better, this wasn’t like a year ago when she was barely holding herself together, she was stronger now, she was able to help Chloe in a way that she hadn’t been in Portland.

“You just be you Beca. You just keep supporting her. But you to have talk to her about this, before it gets to a point that she can’t come back from.” Aubrey smiled softly, putting an arm around Beca’s shoulders, “Because if you go in there like you are now, this strong woman that has the strength to pull herself through hell, she’ll be able to see that you can help her too.”

Beca sniffed as she wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, “You really think so?” She looked at Aubrey who smiled wider.

“I really do.” Aubrey nodded.

“I love her Aubrey. All of this mess, all of this shit we’ve had to wade through, it’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. I couldn’t stop loving her if I tried. I wish she could see that…” Beca sighed.

“I know Becs. You just have to keep showing her. She’ll get it eventually.”

Aubrey could feel her phone vibrating in her pocket, pulling it out and smiling as she saw the caller id, “It’s Stacie, probably telling me she’s on her way home.”

Beca grinned, wiping away the last of her tears as she got up to finish tidying the mess she’d made whilst taking care of Bella.

“Hey baby, you finally finished?” Aubrey grinned, but the smile quickly fell, the colour draining from her face as she listened to Stacie.

Beca was blissfully unaware as she finished tidying, a smug smile on her face as she stood with her hands on her hips. Maybe she was cut out for this baby-sitting lark after all.

“Right. We’re coming, we’ll be there as soon as we can.” Aubrey’s voice shook as she hung up the phone, Beca turning to her with a frown on her face.

“What is it? Is Stacie okay?” She asked, her heart beginning to pound as she saw the pale ghostly look on Aubrey’s face.

“It’s Chloe…” Aubrey started.

Beca could hear a high pitch ringing as Aubrey relayed the information that Stacie had just given her, her head swimming as she felt her legs buckle. Aubrey got to her feet just in time to catch Beca before she hit the floor, the young brunette’s breathing coming in small, short gasps.


This wasn’t happening.


“Beca…” Aubrey’s voice sounded like Beca had her head underwater, “Beca.” Her voice was clearer as the blonde shook her a little, “Beca I need you to get your shit together okay? You need to have a handle on things before we get there. Can you do that?”

Beca nodded, licking her suddenly dry lips as she shakily got to her feet, Aubrey helping her.

“I’m gonna call Stacie’s mom okay? She’ll be here in ten minutes to keep an eye on Bella, she was in the city all day. Ten minutes and we can go okay?” Aubrey picked up her phone from the sofa as Beca stood in the middle of the living room feeling a sudden chill.

“Chloe…” She whispered, “I’m so sorry, Chloe… I should’ve seen it.”

Stacie was a little breathless as she reached Beca and Chloe’s front door, having almost run down the hall to their apartment after the elevator had seemed to take forever. Taking a moment to centre herself, Stacie tried the front door, feeling a rush of relief that it was unlocked.

“Chloe?” She called, stepping into the dimly lit apartment, the last of the daylight outside starting to fade. At the table sat her friend, un-moving, simply staring at the table in front of her, Beca’s hoodie pulled tight around her.

Stacie wanted to run to her, to pull her into her arms and tell her everything would be fine, that she was going to be okay. But she didn’t. Instead she quietly shut the apartment door, making her way in the semi darkness to where Chloe sat, taking the seat opposite her at the kitchen table. Whatever Chloe was bottling up inside that had brought her to this point needed to come out, and Stacie sweeping in the way she wanted to was not going to allow her to do that.

“What’s in the vial Chlo?” She asked, trying to pretend that this was a normal conversation, her heart pounding.

“Pentobarbital.” Chloe answered flatly, not tearing her eyes away from it.

Stacie swallowed the lump in her throat as she nodded. The young scientist knew what it was, knew what it could do without Chloe having to say anymore. They sat in silence, Stacie not wanting to push Chloe too far when she was teetering this close on the edge of oblivion. It felt like an eternity before Chloe spoke again.

“I just want it to stop Stacie… the pain, the guilt, the fear, all of it.” Chloe whispered, tears slipping down her cheeks, the warm feeling of relief from earlier replaced with a cold hollow fear, “I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Like a broken shell of the person I was…”

Stacie clenched her jaw, her nostrils flaring as she held back tears. Now wasn’t the time for her to fall apart. Chloe needed her to be strong if she were to climb down off the ledge.

“Who am I kidding? I’ve always been broken… ever since-” Chloe paused, biting her lip. She couldn’t tell Stacie this.

“I know.” Stacie’s voice was calm as she looked at Chloe, the ginger’s head jolting up in shock as she looked at Stacie. Her heart was pounding a little as she tried to find her words. Instead of the icy dread she expected to feel at the revelation, Chloe felt oddly calm, comforted in the idea that she didn’t have to tell her herself.

“He was right. My dad. I am an abomination, a scorn on the earth. Everything and everyone I touch turns to shit. Look at Beca. Look at what being around me did to her. I told her about all of it, and all the poison from it seeped into her and it nearly killed her.” Chloe bit her lip as she squeezed her eyes tightly shut.

Stacie could feel her heart breaking. She was mad at herself for not seeing that Chloe was falling apart like this, mad that she hadn’t seen her falling apart before it had gotten to this point. She had never been good at keeping her mouth shut, but right now, despite wanting nothing more than to tell Chloe how wrong she was, she sat and listened. Chloe needed that more than anything else right now.

“I ran into Jenny, the girl from back in Portland, today. She’s doing amazing. She’s got tenure, a beautiful wife and kid, a whole life in Boston. And all I could think was ‘this is your fault. You’re the reason I’m like this.’ Which I know is wrong, it’s so wrong, she’s not the one that did it all to me… but why does she get to have the perfect life whilst mine is going to shit?” Chloe shook her head, eyes on the vial again as she placed a shaky hand on the syringe.

“I wouldn’t wish any of this on her, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but… god I sound so pathetic.” She scoffed, “I am going to ruin this for Beca. She’s working so hard to get better and if I stick around it’s all gonna go to hell. She deserves so much better than me…”

Stacie watched as Chloe’s thumb stroked the side of the syringe, her whole body tensing as she mentally prepared herself for the possibility that she’d have to physically intervene.

“You all do. I can’t keep feeling like this. I can’t keep waking up every morning wishing I hadn’t. I can’t keep pretending that I’m not drowning. It’s too hard.” Chloe looked up at Stacie, the brunette seeing the dull sadness that was consuming her friend and feeling her heart ache.

“But… the thought of leaving Beca? The thought of her being here in this apartment alone? That scares me. Because I don’t want her to fall apart. I don’t want her to fall off the waggon. She is exceptional, she’s going to be the best music producer the world has and will ever see. But if I do this… how could I do that to her?” Chloe shook her head.

“I’m stuck Stacie. I’m stuck between wanting this to be over and being too much of a coward to end it. Do you know how many times I’ve debated this? How many times I’ve considered taking 30 aspirin instead of one? How many times I’ve thought about stepping in front of the subway?” Chloe was breaking down and Stacie could see it. She wanted to stop it, to tell Chloe that everything was going to be okay, but she had to let her break; if she didn’t, Chloe might never accept that she needed help.

“I hate this. I hate all of it. I never wanted my childhood to define me, but I let it. I let it have this grip on me just like I let it happen to me. I have never fought hard enough to escape this. I don’t know if I can. All I know is that this is too fucking hard.” Chloe couldn’t stop the tears that poured down her face in a torrent. God she was sick of crying.

“What the hell am I supposed to do now?” Chloe choked out, head in her hands as she sobbed heavily, “I’m so lost, I’m so broken, I don’t what the fuck I’m doing anymore. God what was I thinking?!”

Stacie finally got up from her seat, squatting next to Chloe, “Do you want me to take the pentobarbital away?” She asked, her voice thick with the tears she was holding back.

Chloe nodded sobbing heavily as Stacie grabbed the vial and the syringe, shoving them into her bag in a zipped compartment. Once the vial was safely stowed away, Stacie pulled the broken Chloe into her arms and held her tight as she sobbed and sobbed, like the world was ending. She stroked her head, whispering into her hair: “It’s okay. You’re okay. I’ve got you.”

Chloe clung to her like an infant, her heart broken, her spirit smashed into pieces, unable to see a way out of this black abyss she was in. How did she come back from something like this? How could she face any of them again?

“I’m sorry.” She sobbed into Stacie’s chest, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Stacie shushed her, arms still tight around her, “You are a stronger than you know Chloe Beale. And you have us. We are not letting you go without a fight, you hear me?”

Chloe just sobbed, feeling as if her very soul was being ripped in half. Why the hell was Stacie being so nice to her? She didn’t deserve this.

“It’s too hard.” She cried.

“I know it feels like that sweetie. But you don’t have to do this alone. I promise you are not alone in this. You are never alone Chloe.” Stacie rubbed her back like she did with Bella when she was inconsolable, “I love you Beale, so damn much. You’re my sister and I will never desert you.”

“I don’t know how to come back from this Stacie, I don’t know how I’m supposed to move on.” Chloe wept.

“You need help Chloe. From a professional. We are all here for you, but you really need to talk to someone about all of this. Because it’s eating you alive.” Stacie tucked a lock of hair behind Chloe’s ear.

“Will they ever forgive me?” Chloe asked, lifting her head to look at Stacie, fear in her eyes.

“Oh Chloe… there’s nothing to forgive.” Stacie smiled at her softly, “After everything you’ve been through, after all the shit that’s been thrown your way, you are allowed to fall apart. Do you want me to get them here? So you can see for yourself?”

Chloe nodded, pulling herself to her feet and sinking onto the end of her bed, head in her hands again. Stacie pulled her phone from her bag, stepping to the far side of the kitchen as she rang her wife.

“Hey baby, you finally finished?” Stacie smiled softly as Aubrey’s voice soothed her a little.

“I need you baby. I’m at Beca and Chloe’s, she’s in a really bad way.” Stacie turned her back to Chloe as the redhead sobbed quietly, “I got a text from her, it set off alarm bells so I got here as fast as I could. I didn’t wanna worry you until I knew more but… Aubrey she… she needs you. She needs Beca.”

“Right. We’re coming, we’ll be there as soon as we can.”

Stacie took a moment to centre herself, desperately trying to keep herself together for Chloe. She went over to Chloe and sat down next to her, and arm around her shoulder as she tried to comfort her inconsolable friend.

Fifteen minutes later the door opened, Beca rushing in, Aubrey on her heels as Beca dropped to her knees in front of Chloe, her arms tight around her waist.

“I’m here. You’re okay Chlo.” Beca mumbled as Chloe let her head fall onto her shoulder, sobbing heavily in Beca’s arms.

Aubrey sat on the opposite side of Chloe to Stacie, her arm around her shoulder, giving her wife a sad smile as Stacie wrapped her arm around her waist. They just sat there like that, the sound of Chloe’s broken-hearted sobs echoing around the apartment. It was at least half an hour before anyone moved, Chloe lifting her head to look at them.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve.

“You have nothing to apologise for.” Beca looked at Chloe, a soft smile on her face, “It’s okay. We’ve got you.”

“We’ve always got you.” Aubrey whispered, tucking Chloe’s hair behind her ear.

“See. I told you.” Stacie chuckled softly.

“I don’t wanna put this all on you right now.” Chloe whispered to Beca, not looking her in the eye,

“Chloe. Look at me.” Beca took her hand in hers in a way she hadn’t done in months, but that was entirely necessary now, “I’m okay. I’m strong enough to carry some of this. I promise you, it’s okay. Let me help you Chlo. Please.”

They talked for hours, Chloe able to be honest with all of them because they knew at least most of the truth. Aubrey, Stacie and Beca never once left Chloe’s side, all of them cuddled up to her in some way so that she knew they weren’t going anywhere.

Chloe shook her head, “I don’t deserve you. Any of you.”

“Oh Chloe, you deserve so much happiness…” Aubrey sighed, “We want you in our lives, we’re going to fight like hell to keep you in them.”

“Damn right.” Beca grinned, tears in her eyes, “You’re Chloe Beale, you’re like the coolest person ever.”

Chloe scoffed, leaning against Aubrey as she sniffled, “Can I sleep now?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Stacie stroked her hair, “I think that’s a great idea. We can sort everything out tomorrow. But we are going to sort this Chloe. We’re going to get you help.”

Chloe nodded softly, “Okay. If it’ll stop me feeling like this, then okay.”

Beca got to her feet, pulling Chloe’s comforter back so she could crawl into bed. Aubrey helped her slip of her shoes as Stacie plumped her pillows, the comforter tucked around Chloe as Beca stroked her head.

“I’ve got this you guys. Do hug your daughter.” Beca smiled softly, looking back at Chloe as she walked Aubrey and Stacie to the door.

“Are you sure?” Aubrey asked, a small frown on her face.

“Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a drink right now…” Beca shook her head, “But Chloe needs me more than I need a drink. I’m staying here with her, no danger of that.”

“If you need us-” Stacie started.

“I will call you. Immediately.” Beca reassured her, smiling as they left, closing the door softly.

Beca took a brief moment to lean against the door, her heart breaking. How could she not have seen this coming? How did she miss Chloe spinning out like this?

“Beca?” Chloe’s voice was quiet and timid as Beca turned to her.

“Yeah Chloe?” She smiled softly.

“Can you… can you come and get in with me? Just for tonight?” Chloe sniffed. She needed Beca’s arms around her right now.

Beca said nothing, kicking off her shoes as she climbed under the comforter next to Chloe. It was the first time in nearly a year that they shared a bed, but neither of them was dwelling on that. Chloe buried her face in Beca’s neck, arms tight around her waist, Beca’s arms tight around the redhead.

“I’m sorry.” Beca whispered.

“Why are you sorry?” Chloe sniffed.

“Because I didn’t see you were hurting to this much.” Beca sniffled, “I missed it, and I’m sorry.”

“No.” Chloe lifted her head so she was looking at Beca, “You did what you were supposed to, you focused on getting sober, on getting well.”

“It’s your turn now Chlo.” Beca smiled softly, “Your turn to get better. But first, you need to sleep okay?”

“Okay.” Chloe whispered, her eyes fluttering shit as she nestled into Beca’s side, “Promise you won’t leave me Beca?”

“Not for a minute baby.” Beca mumbled, kissing the top of her head as Chloe finally fell asleep.

Aubrey and Stacie arrived home and relieved Stacie’s mother of her babysitting duties. Stacie managed to hold it together up until she shut the door of her apartment, all the emotion that she had been holding in overwhelming her as she dropped to her knees sobbing heavily. Aubrey rushed to her, pulling her into her arms as he wife broke down, the fear, the sadness, the panic all pouring out after being held back so she could help Chloe.

“I’ve got you baby, it’s okay. Let it out.” Aubrey whispered into Stacie’s hair as she wrapped her arms around her tightly. Stacie buried her face in her shoulder, body racking as she wept.

“What if I’d been too late?” She choked, “What if she hadn’t texted me?”

“But you did. She did. It’s okay.” Aubrey planted soft kisses on the top of her head.

“Aubrey, I think she was actually going to do it…” Stacie cried, “How did I miss that she was feeling like this? That she was spiralling out of control?”

“None of us did. Chloe’s so good at hiding it when she feels like this.” Aubrey stroked her back, still holding her tightly against her, tears slipping down her own cheeks.

“I don’t wanna lose her Bree.” Stacie sobbed, Aubrey squeezing her tighter.

“I know baby. Me neither.”

They sat on the floor of their apartment for an hour, both of them crying as the realisation of how close a call it had been hit them. They wept because they hadn’t seen Chloe had fallen this far. They wept because Chloe was hurting so badly. They wept because they had almost lost her for good.

Once the tears had dissipated, Stacie’s head still resting on Aubrey’s shoulder as she sniffed, the blonde tucked Stacie’s long brunette hair behind her ear, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead.

“I love you Stacie. I’m so proud of you for today.” She mumbled, stroking her hair.

“Thank you for coming when I called.” Stacie held Aubrey’s free hand in hers, “I don’t think I’d have been able to manage if you hadn’t.”

“You did so well, you saved her life. That’s huge.” Aubrey kissed her head again, “You really are the most amazing woman in the world.”

“She’s gonna be okay right?” Stacie asked, looking up at her wife, “If she goes to therapy and gets the help she needs… she’s going to be okay?”

“Yeah. This is Chloe we’re talking about, she’ll find her way through it. Especially with Beca by her side.” Aubrey nodded.

“Things start to get better now right?” Stacie asked, a sad smile on her face, “They get to be happy now?”

“I really hope so.” Aubrey smiled back, “God, I hope so…”

When Chloe woke up in Beca’s arms eighteen hours later, the brunette having kept her promise of not leaving her the entire time, the redhead felt a sense of comfort that she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Maybe it really was going to be okay after all.

“You finally awake then?” Beca teased, looking down from her phone screen at the sleepy redhead curled up on her chest.

“Yeah… sorry.” Chloe smiled softly.

“It’s okay. You really needed the rest Chlo.” Beca grinned, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

“I’m still tired…” Chloe admitted, “But there’s things I have to do.” She said, not moving an inch as she soaked in the feeling of being in Beca’s arms, listening to the steady beat of her heart.

“You gonna do them from right here?” Beca asked. It was a serious question but there was a teasing smile in her face.

“I just want another few minutes.” Chloe grumbled, a mile tugging at the corner of her lips.

Beca knew that this wasn’t them getting back together, this was Chloe needing longer than ten minutes, and she was okay with that. There was no expectation from her to spend the rest of their nights like this. This was a one-time thing that Chloe needed to centre herself, even if Beca wanted nothing more than to fold the sofa bed away for good.

After twenty minutes, Chloe finally dragged herself from Beca’s arms, walking over to the coffee machine, frowning softly as Beca got up too, “You don’t have to get up if you’re comfy y’know?”

“I know.” Beca smiled, “But I can hardly set up my mixing deck in your bed can I? Besides, I’m still wearing my jeans, and I’d much rather be in my sweats.”

“Mixing deck?” Chloe asked.

“I’m working from home till Christmas.” Beca told her as she grabbed a pair of sweats from her drawer in the dresser and a clean hoodie from the clothes rail.

“Beca, you don’t have to do that…” Chloe sighed softly. She hated the idea that Beca was putting her life on hold for her.

“Yeah I do. You did it for me remember?” Beca smiled back at her, heading to the bathroom to change.

“That was different.” Chloe shook her head.

“No. It wasn’t.” Beca stopped in her tracks, a serious look on her face, “I needed you then more than I have ever needed anyone in my whole life. I was at my lowest point and you were there to pick me back up. That’s what I’m doing for you. It’s the same.”

Chloe could feel tears welling up in her eyes as she looked at the determined face of her best friend. She didn’t deserve Beca Mitchell. But god was she glad that she had her.

“I’m gonna change, and then we’re gonna sit down and work out what you’re gonna do next okay?” Beca smiled again, heading into the bathroom.

Chloe leant against the kitchen counter for a moment as the coffee machine beeped. Beca was right. She was strong enough to help her. The redhead hadn’t seen it whilst she’d been spiralling, but right now she could see how far Beca had come since March. She was more like Beca ‘effin Mitchell than she had been since the USO Tour.

Yes. Everything was going to be okay Chloe realised. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next month, or next year. But at some point things were going to be okay. Because she had Beca.

A week and a half had passed since Chloe’s breakdown and it was now Christmas Eve. Chloe had finally called the therapist that Stacie had recommended well over a year ago, agreeing to two sessions a week for the foreseeable. Having someone to talk to that was professionally trained and who wasn’t a person that she loved was far better than she could have imagined. She felt lighter, more relaxed. The first session had been particularly difficult, Chloe realising that she had to tell this woman everything if she wanted to get better. And god did she want to get better. Once she started talking, she couldn’t stop, all of it poring out in a torrent. The therapist had sat and listened, not interrupting once as she let Chloe get it all off her chest, a soft supportive smile on her face. When Chloe had finished, the therapist leant over with a tissue in her hand.

“You’ve been through a hell of a lot Chloe.” She smiled softly. Chloe scoffed a little as she took the tissue from her, wiping her eyes, “You should be incredibly proud of yourself for getting this far without any help. But you made the right call asking for help. You can’t keep going like this.”

“I know.” Chloe whispered, “It’s just hard y’know?”

“I do. But this is a great first step.” The therapist nodded, “Can I ask you one question before we end today’s session?”

Chloe nodded, realising that she’d be talking for almost forty minutes non-stop.

“Where do you want to be five years from now?”

Chloe was a little taken aback. It had been a long time since she’d thought about the future. Hell, she wasn’t sure she ever had thought about the future, not that far ahead anyway

“Happy.” Chloe whispered after a moment, “I know it sounds stupid, but that’s all I want. To be happy.”

“It’s not stupid. It’s a really important thing to strive for.” The therapist smiled, “More importantly Chloe, it’s what you deserve, even if you can’t admit that right now.”

Chloe smiled softly, sniffing a little as she ran a hand through her hair, “Will it happen though?” She asked hesitantly, “Because I don’t feel like it can happen… it feels so unobtainable.”

“The way that you’re feeling right now Chloe, it’s temporary. It doesn’t feel like that I know, but every storm passes eventually. You have to put the work in, but you can be happy.”

Since then, Chloe had felt a little better. Sure, she was still struggling, still had nightmares, but knowing that she was in control, that if she wanted to she could turn this all around. And she did want to. She really did want to be happy.

So that Christmas Eve she got up and went to the store, buying the ingredients that she needed before returning home. Both her and Beca had agreed to not really do anything for Christmas, the memories of last year still playing on both of their minds. Instead of the traditional celebrations, they’d agreed to a Chinese takeaway and Netflix, spending their day in their pyjamas. But Chloe had woken up that morning wanting them to have something to mark the occasion, as well as wanting to do something productive to take her mind off things (therapist recommended), and knew just what to make. She arrived at the apartment to find Beca at the kitchen table with her headphones on, engrossed in a mix.

“Becs?” Chloe asked as she set the bags down on the kitchen side, Beca seeming not to have seen or heard her when she came in, “Beca?” Chloe put her hand on her arm, stifling a laugh as Beca leapt out of her skin.

“Jesus Chlo! Wait, when did you get back?” Beca took her headphones off as she settled them around her neck.

“Just now. Is there anyway you can do that on your bed?” Chloe asked with a cheeky grin, “I wanna make something in Christmasey but I’m gonna need the table space too.”

“Oh?” Beca raised an eyebrow, a smirk on her face, “What’re you making?”

“You’ll find out. If you clear the table.” Chloe winked. Beca rolled her eyes, but started to excitedly pack her stuff up to move to her bed. A little backache was worth it for Chloe’s baking skills.

Beca watched for a few moments as Chloe started to take the ingredients out of the bag, humming softly as she worked. Beca grinned to herself, this was the old Chloe and she could see it. There was no hidden sadness in her eyes, no awkward silences. It was all in the open, whether she was having a good day or a bad, Beca knew what Chloe was feeling, and it felt like they were finally both in a good place.

About forty minutes later, Beca looked up from her laptop, her nose twitching as she sniffed, a broad grin on her face.

“Gingerbread?!” She exclaimed excitedly, eyes bright.

“Yup.” Chloe grinned, laughing as she watched Beca scramble off the bed to get to the kitchen.

“It’s my favourite!” Beca reached the table, her eyes lighting up as she saw that they were cut into the shape of snowflakes. She looked at Chloe, noticing a smear of flour on her cheek. Smiling softly she reached out absent-mindedly, brushing it off with her thumb. Chloe blushed slightly, but didn’t pull away. Had this been two weeks earlier she would’ve but now…

“It’s your mom’s recipe.” Chloe whispered, her eyes locked with Beca’s until they both looked away, blushing a little.

“Really?” Beca asked, smiling widely. Her mom’s gingerbread was her favourite part of Christmas.

“I know we’re keeping it lowkey this year, but I still wanted you to have something a little festive.” Chloe pulled the last batch from the oven, putting them of the cooling tray as Beca reached out to take one, pouting a little as she realised they were too hot to eat just yet.

“Thanks Chlo.” She grinned, “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas Becs.”

December faded into January, January into February, both inhabitants of the studio apartment too busy to notice how fast the winter months were slipping by. New Years Eve was quiet, and thankfully uneventful, both Chloe and Beca in their beds and asleep long before midnight. It hadn’t escaped either of them that it marked a year since they put their relationship on hold, exactly as they had agreed but neither brought it up. Beca knew without asking that Chloe wasn’t ready for anything right now, which didn’t bother her. She was far more concerned with Chloe getting better than she was anything else. The redhead needed the time to repair herself, just like Beca had, and so the brunette let the date come and go without a word.

Chloe had been diligently attending her therapy sessions, determined not to get sucked into the black hole that she had found herself in ever again. There was a long way to go, she knew that, but she couldn’t help but feel optimistic about the way things were going. She was, dare she say, happy for the first time in a very long time, but she felt like there was something… missing?

“Not missing per say… it’s hard to explain…” Chloe sighed as she sat opposite her therapist, slumped forward, resting her arms on her legs, “It’s like… like I have the thing I want but it’s not quite the why I wanted it?”

“You want more for yourself than you have at the minute?” The therapist smiled warmly, “What is it that you want more of?”

Chloe sighed, a soft smile forming on her face as she ran a hand through her hair, “Beca. I want us to be more than we are.”

“This is your roommate that you were dating for a little while?” The therapist asked, “You went to college together, she’s a recovering alcoholic?”

“Yeah.” Chloe grinned, “There’s been little moments for months where it was almost like we’re dating again… we were supposed to talk about the hiatus I put us on at New Years but… I didn’t say anything. I was so focused on not thinking about what happened last year that I didn’t realise it had completely passed me by. What if she thinks that I don’t want us to get back together? Because I do, god I really do. I miss her.”

“Look, I don’t know Beca like you do. But from what you’ve told me, and let’s face it you talk about her more than you talk about yourself some sessions…” The therapist raised an eyebrow, a smirk on her face, “She loves you Chloe. Did she mention the hiatus to you?”

“No.” Chloe shook her head, “Do you think that means she doesn’t want to?”

“I don’t think so. I think she’s just trying to respect your recovery. This is the woman that worked from home the entirety of December to make sure you weren’t left alone at home.” Her therapist set her notepad down for a second, leaning forward so she was looking Chloe in the eye, “Is this what you want Chloe? To give you and Beca another go?”

“It is. I feel like I’m in a better place now… not perfect, and I know there’s more work to do but… I can’t imagine doing it without her. Am I ready for this? Do you think it’s a bad idea?” Chloe needed to here it from someone else.

“Listening to you, knowing how hard you’ve worked for the last two months? I think you’ll be okay. As long as the two of you bear in mind that you’re both recovering, that you’re going to need to take it slow, I don’t see it holding you back or making things worse.”

Chloe smiled softly, a sense of relief washing over her. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust herself necessarily, she just wanted to know that she wasn’t overthinking it, that she wasn’t pushing herself too far. Hearing this, she felt the weight on her shoulders lift a little.

“You don’t have to do it today, or tomorrow, or next week. There’s no rush on this.” Her therapist reassured her, “But whenever you’re ready, talk to Beca. See how you both feel. Let yourself have that bit of happiness, you deserve it.”

 Chloe sat on the subway on her way back to her apartment, excitement bubbling inside her as she thought about the conversation she was going to have with Beca. God she missed her. She couldn’t believe it had been over a year since she’d held her hand, shared her bed, hugged her without having to call ten minutes (not that she minded that, it was a great idea on Beca’s part). It had been over a year since she’d kissed her at all. Chloe looked around her, realising that people were sitting a lot closer on the subway than normal, saw the plethora of red and pink gift bags, flowers, and boxes of chocolate and realised… it was Valentine’s Day. Chloe felt a grin spread across her face. They’d never had a Valentine’s together as a couple. They’d done every other holiday as a couple with some pretty disastrous results, but never this one. It was perfect. A fresh start.

Chloe somehow managed to find the last flower shop in New York that was selling roses (it was only two and they were a little battered, but Chloe thought it was the perfect metaphor for the two of them) and a box of Beca’s favourite chocolate before she headed up to their apartment, chest pounding, but for the first time in months it wasn’t out of fear. This time it was out of excitement. She opened the front door, knowing that Beca had been at home all day (Wednesdays were her day off), but stopped in her tracks when she found the apartment empty. The redhead frowned slightly, heart sinking a little; she had really wanted Beca to be home. It was as she went to set the presents on the kitchen table that she noticed that Beca’s laptop was sat open, a post-it note attached to the screen. Carefully setting down the things that she had bought, Chloe took the post-it note off the screen, it simply reading: ‘Play Me!’ in Beca’s scrawled handwriting. A small smile tugged at her lips as she went to click the touchpad, finding an envelope on the keyboard as she did so that had her name on it.

With shaking hands, Chloe pulled out a chair, taking the letter from the envelope as she hit play. Music emitted from the speakers, a song that Chloe thought was familiar, a very familiar voice beginning to sing:

“While you were sleeping/ I decided to lay it out/ Every bad reason/ All of my pointless doubts/ Where I went wrong/ I whispered the ways that I'm ashamed of myself.”

Chloe’s breath caught in her throat as Beca’s voice filled the apartment. She could never quite explain the way hearing Beca sing made her feel; how it made her feel invincible and vulnerable all at once, how it made her both strong and weak, happy and sad. It was the most beautiful sound that she had ever heard. Opening the letter in her hand, Chloe began to read as Beca sang:

“While you were dreaming/ I handed you all my fears/ My thoughtless decisions/ Turned into thoughtful tears/ What have I done for the first time? I blame myself.”


I want to start by telling you how proud I am of you. You are quite possibly the strongest person I have ever met. There is no way I’d have been able to get through what you’ve been through and still be half as amazing as you are. There is nothing more important to me than you getting better, I need you to know that.

You know me, I’ve never been one for big sweeping gestures they make me cringe. But for you I’d run through Central Park naked. I’ve been thinking about you a lot, about us. Ever since you walked into my shower freshman year you have been the most important person in my life. You broke down the walls I’d spent years building up, you helped me become the person I am now. I don’t know who I’d be without you Chloe Beale. I want us to un-pause, I want to be your girlfriend again. I’m worried that it’s selfish, that I’m pushing it too quickly, but all I can think about lately is how much I miss you.

So much has happened since I finally told you how I feel about you, I know that. I’m not expecting us to go back to where we were, I meant what I said last year: I will take you anyway that I can have you. If you need a clean slate, then we’ll do that. If you need to stay friends, I can do that. I can’t pretend it’ll be easy, but if that’s what you need that’s okay. I just want you to be loved in the way you deserve to be loved, the way that people should have been loving you your whole life: unconditionally and in complete awe of the amazing person you are.

I love you Chloe Beale. With my whole heart and soul, with every single inch of me, I love you.

I’m on the roof if you wanna join me?

Beca x

Chloe’s heart was pounding, tears pouring down her face as she sent the letter down, the song concluding with:

“You get my love, baby/ You get my love/ If there's only one thing about me that you can trust/ You get my love, baby/ You get my love/ Don't let my mistakes take that away from us/ You get my love.”

Chloe sat there for a moment, wanting to savour this moment. The moment she knew that Beca felt the same way. The moment right before everything fit back into place.

Then, getting up so quickly that she almost knocked the chair over, leaving their apartment and taking the stairs to the roof two at a time, breathless as she opened the door and saw Beca. A soft smile crept onto her lips, tears slipping down her cheeks as their eyes met. Beca had laid out a picnic blanket, a selection of Chloe’s favourite foods carefully laid out, a blanket for both of them, a flask full of hot chocolate waiting for them. But right now, Chloe didn’t care about any of that.

Beca felt her heart skip a beat as she saw Chloe, saw the smile on her lips, saw the look in her tear-filled eyes. Her hands dropped to her sides from where she’d been wringing them together, a grin spreading across her face. She came. Chloe came.

Neither of them said a word for, moved an inch for what felt like an eternity. It was like time had stopped as they looked at each other, them frozen in time as the world passed them by. And then, at long, long last Chloe ran to Beca grabbing the front of her jacket as she pressed her lips to hers, their first kiss in what had felt like a lifetime. Beca wound her arms around Chloe’s waist as she returned the kiss, pulling her as close as she possibly could, soaking in the feeling of having Chloe’s lips on hers again. It felt like a homecoming for them both as they held each other tight, Chloe’s hands tangling themselves in Beca’s hair, neither of them wanting to leave this moment ever again. But eventually, the need to breathe became more important than them kissing each other and they reluctantly broke apart, forehead’s resting together, stupid grins on both of their faces.

“I love you Chloe.” Beca panted, tucking a stray lock of hair behind Chloe’s ear.

“I love you too Beca.” Chloe breathed, cupping her cheek with her hand, wiping away a tear with her thumb.

They stood there for what could have been eternity in each other’s arms, neither of them wanting to disturb this moment for anything in the world. It was Chloe who eventually spoke, stroking Beca’s face with her hand.

“We need to talk about this, you know that right?” She grinned.

“Yeah, I do.” Beca smiled softly, “Wanna grab a blanket and some hot chocolate whilst we do?”

“Sounds great to me.” Chloe laughed softly as they untangled their arms from each other’s as they sat on the blanket that Beca had laid out for them, a blanket wrapped around their shoulders as they sat opposite each other, Beca pouring her a hot chocolate for Chloe and then one for herself in the mugs she had brought up.

Chloe picked up one of the glazed doughnuts that Beca had laid out on a plate as she took the mug from her, a soft smile on her lips, “This is a really cute idea Becs, the picnic.”

“Yeah, but mid-February may not have been the right time for it…” Beca mused as she pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders with a grin.

“Perhaps not.” Chloe giggled, warming her hands on her mug, “But I love it.”

“Thanks.” Beca couldn’t keep the grin off her face as she looked at Chloe, “So… what now?”

Chloe smiled, sipping her hot chocolate before replying, “I’ve been thinking about this a lot for a while now. I think it would be best if we had a clean slate, started all over again. Because the first time we tried this we were both so unwell, so damaged…” Chloe shook her head sadly, “Neither of us are a hundred percent better now, we both know that, but we’re definitely in a better place than we were.”

Beca nodded, “I think you’re right. We’ve come a long way since the Cayman Islands, I don’t think either of us are the same person we were then. So we start afresh, go from the beginning. Are we starting as girlfriends, or as two people that are dating?”

“Girlfriends.” Chloe grinned, “Let’s face it Beca, we’re way past the awkward dating phase after living together this long. It’d be weird if we were to try and be anything else.”

Beca laughed, “That is true, I’m glad you said that.”

“Are you okay if we take it slow though?” Chloe asked, biting her lip, “I- I don’t think I’m ready for us to share a bed yet. I know I’m not ready for anything in that department to happen.”

“I’m not either.” Beca reassured her, “I’m more than okay to keep sleeping in the sofa bed for as long as you need. If and when we get to the point where we’re both comfortable sharing a bed, we don’t have to do anything straight away. We take at a pace we’re both comfortable with, and we talk to each other about wanting to move things along.”

Chloe smiled gratefully, unable to explain right now how much that meant to her, “Thank you. Speaking of talking, I think we need to make a rule that we have to talk to each other when we’re struggling. Because there are going to be times going forward that we’re going to slip, that things are going to get too much, and I think it’s important that we don’t go back to keeping it from each other.

“I’m totally on board with that.” Beca nodded, “It’s important that we talk when we’re struggling, both for our relationship, and for own separate recoveries. We’ve both got people we can talk to, yes. But it’s important that we talk to each other as well.”

“I think this could really work this time Beca…” Chloe whispered, looking up from her hot chocolate with a teary smile on her face, “Now that everything’s out in the open, now that we’re both getting help…”

Beca reached out and took her hand, giving it a soft squeeze, “I know it can.” She breathed, “Because we’re going to make it work. It won’t all be sunshine and rainbows, it’ll be hard sometimes, but you and I? I think we’ve proved we can get through anything.” Beca grinned.

“Yeah…” Chloe smiled back, “I think you’re right.”

Beca gently took Chloe’s cup from her, setting them both to one side as she moved forward and closed the gap between them, gently cupping her face in her hands, stroking her cheeks with her thumbs.

“I really do love you Chloe Beale. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without you.”

Chloe rested her hands on Beca’s hips, leaning in close as she smiled widely, “You are the source of all my strength, my port in a storm. I love you so much Beca Mitchell.”

They kissed again as Beca slid a hand to the back of Chloe’s neck, it feeling like the only thing that either of them wanted to do for the rest of their lives. Somewhere in New York City, a small fireworks display started, red, white and pink lights exploding in the night sky but it went unnoticed by the couple.

Because at long last, everything was as it should be.

Chapter Text

The Bellas had been overjoyed at the new that ‘Bhloe’ were back together (the couple less enthused by the nickname they had given them), and a reunion was somehow miraculously thrown together in the space of a couple of days, thanks largely to Aubrey’s organisational skills. The day before, Beca and Chloe were curled up on the sofa, Beca having collapsed her bed so they could have a movie night and a takeout after a long week.

“I think I’m going to tell them.” Chloe mumbled, head on Beca’s shoulder, eyes on the tv even though she wasn’t really paying the film any attention.

Beca turned her head to look at Chloe, a look of shock on her face, “Really?!” She asked.

“Yeah.” Chloe lifted her head from Beca’s shoulder, taking strength from the look of love and wonder in her eyes, “I was talking to my therapist about it. They’re my family, I want to be able to be honest with them. And she thinks it will help me process it to say it out loud in a safe environment, verbalise that it wasn’t my fault.”

“It wasn’t.” Beca smiled softly, tucking a lock of Chloe’s hair behind her ear.

“I know… sort of. I’m working on it.” Chloe smiled back, her fingers interlaced with Beca’s. She was feeling stronger now than she ever had, and even more so now that she had Beca back.

“I think that’s amazing Chloe, I’m so proud of you.” Beca leant in and pressed a soft kiss to her lips, grinning as she pulled back.

“Is that my reward?” Chloe giggled, “Because it’s a great incentive.”

Beca rolled her eyes, a grin on her face, “Noted. I really am proud of you though Chlo, this a huge step.”

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without you Becs.” Chloe put her head back on Beca’s shoulder, snuggling closer, “It’s going to be hard though… Aubrey is going to find out that I didn’t tell her everything… she’s gonna be so hurt.”

“No.” Beca kissed the top of her head, her arm around her shoulders and giving her a gentle squeeze, “She’ll totally understand, it’s a really difficult thing to tell people about and you were in such a state that night, for good reason. And I’ll be right there to help you through it, to hold your hand, whatever you need Chloe.”

“I love you Beca.” Chloe pressed a kiss to Beca’s jaw, “I was thinking, you know the ten minute rule that we were using? I think we could still use that, when we’re having a really bad day and we just need a time out?”

“I think that’s a great idea.” Beca smiled, gently trailing her fingertips up and down Chloe’s spine.

“Because I think that’s what I might need tomorrow, before I do it, before everyone’s here, I think I’m gonna need ten minutes of just being in your arms to give me the strength I need.” Chloe breathed, closing her eyes as she soaked in the feeling of having Beca’s arm around her.

“I can do that. If it’s too difficult for you to do this tomorrow Chloe then you can back out. I won’t think any less of you y’know?” Beca looked at the beautiful woman in her arms, a soft smile on her lips.

“Thanks Beca.” Chloe lifted her head again to press a soft kiss on her lips, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Beca grinned.

The next day, Beca was up earlier than she had meant to be, but relieved to see that Chloe was still snoring softly in her bed. Smiling softly, she got up to put a pot of coffee on, rubbing her eyes as she grabbed her phone, leaning against the edge of the counter as she opened the group chat.


FLO: I’m so excited for today!!! I miss you girls!!!


AMY: They’re the ultimate aca-power couple.


STACIE: Yeah, what?

JESSICA: We’ve been here the entire time!!

ASHLEY: We’ve been here the entire time!!

AMY: … I stand by what I said.

EM: I really can’t wait to see all of you xx

CR: Yeah, it’s going to be so much fun!

LILLY: It’ll be nice to be around people that aren’t dead

Beca grinned. She was really looking forward to seeing her friends too. But she couldn’t help feeling a little apprehensive, none of them knew what they were walking into today and it was going to be difficult. The Bellas would understand and be supportive, but that didn’t mean that it was going to be easy. Still, she was incredibly proud that Chloe had decided to tell them; it was a huge step for her and was a clear indicator of how far Chloe had come since December.

Pouring herself a cup of coffee, Beca watched Chloe sleep for a few minutes, a loving smile on her face as she looked at the way Chloe was tangled in her sheets, her red hair splayed across her pillow as she lay on her stomach, mouth slightly open. There was no more beautiful sight in the word than a sleeping Chloe, especially when she had such a look of peace on her sleeping face. Beca loved her so much.

“If you’re gonna watch me sleep, you could at least make me a coffee too.” Chloe grumbled sleepily, Beca’s smile only widening as she got another mug out of the cupboard.

“You got it.” Beca winked, bringing the coffee to Chloe who sat up a little, still squinting a little as she smiled gratefully.

“Thanks. You wanna come and cuddle for a few minutes?” Chloe asked, Beca not needing to be asked twice as she clambered under the covers next to her, Chloe resting her head on Beca’s chest with a happy sigh.

“You okay there?” Beca chuckled, an arm around her shoulders.

“Mmhmm.” Chloe hummed, starting to doze off again, “Never better.” She said sincerely.

They stayed like that until Beca’s alarm went off at the correct time for them to get up.

“No…” Chloe whined, arms tightening around Beca’s waist as the brunette went to get out of Chloe’s bed, “Five more minutes…”

“We have to get up and get ready for the Bellas!” Beca giggled, rolling her eyes.

“But I’m comfy…” Chloe pouted, “We can do it from the bed, it’s the Bellas, they’ve seen weirder!”

Beca simply laughed as she kissed Chloe’s forehead, “Alright, five minutes.” She conceded, “But then we really do have to get up alright?”

“Fine.” Chloe sighed, unable to keep the grin of her face.

It was twenty minutes later when Beca and Chloe finally got out of bed, Chloe heading for a shower and to change as Beca took the bedding off her bed and folded it away so the Bellas would have more room when they got here. Once both were washed and dressed and the apartment ready for visitors, Chloe turned to Beca.

“Ten minutes?” She asked, her face a little pale, heart pounding with nerves.

“Ten minutes.” Beca nodded, setting the timer on her phone before wrapping her arms around Chloe’s waist, Chloe letting her head rest on Beca’s shoulder.

Nothing was said for the whole ten minutes, Chloe calming herself by listening to the steady breathing of the brunette in her arms. Once the alarm went off, Beca gently pulled back, pressing a soft kiss on Chloe’s lips.

“I’m so proud of you baby.” She whispered, a soft smile on her face.

“I haven’t even done anything yet.” Chloe smiled back.

“I know.” Beca grinned, “But you’re thinking about it, and that’s huge.”

“I love you, dork.” Chloe shook her head.

“I love you too, weirdo.” Beca planted a kiss on her lips, sighing softly as there was a knock at the door, “Ugh, they always had the worst timing…” Beca sighed as she went to open the door.

To everyone’s surprise, Amy was the first to arrive, a wide grin on her face as enveloped the short brunette in a hug.

“Short stack! I missed you!” Amy cried as Beca protested a little but hugged her back all the same, “I love what you’ve done with the place… although the bear lurking in the corner is all little unnerving…”

“Oh yeah, you sorta stop noticing it after a while.” Chloe laughed as she hugged Amy tightly, “I’m really glad you’re here Amy, the apartment hasn’t quite been the same without you.”

“Yeah, we’ve always had food in and there’s actually room to move, it’s wild!” Beca grinned.

Amy scoffed, about to respond with something snarky when there was another knock at the door. Beca winked at her as she went to answer it, almost knocked off her feet by an enthusiastic Emily.

“BECA!!!” She cried, the brunette just about recovering herself as she hugged her back

“Hey Em.” Beca laughed, “I know you missed me dude, but can you not crush my spine?”

“Sorry!” Emily pulled back, a wide grin on her face going to give Chloe a tight hug too.

The Bellas arrived one after the other in the space of ten minutes, the biggest surprise of all being that Stacie and (more surprisingly) Aubrey were the last to arrive.

“The aca-dictator late to the party? Is this the apocalypse?” Amy frowned as Aubrey rolled her eyes.

“Not our fault. The nanny was late.” Aubrey smiled as she hugged Beca and then Chloe.

“Sure. The nanny.” Amy winked as Stacie laughed.

The Bellas were overjoyed to be reunited with each other, needing very little excuse to want to get together like this, but always glad to celebrate the highs in each other’s lives as well as be there for the lows. It was the first time they’d been together as a group since Beca’s intervention, but many of them had seen some of the others in smaller groups in-between.

Beca had her arm around Chloe’s waist and gave it a tight squeeze, knowing exactly what she was thinking. The redhead had a forced smile on her face, a little pale as she thought about the prospect of telling them everything.

“I’m so glad you could all come.” Chloe’s smile was tight but her words were sincere, “I’ve really missed you.”

“Are you kidding? Bella reunion and you guys getting back together? This is the highlight of my year!” Emily grinned broadly, her arm around Benji’s waist (being an honorary Bella meant that he automatically got invited to these events), the two of them having flown down from Boston after visiting Benji’s parents earlier that week.

“Should I be offended?” He chuckled as Emily blushed a little, kissing his cheek.

“You know I love you.” Emily chuckled.

Chloe felt a knot form in her stomach as she saw how happy they all were. She knew what she had to say was going to lower the tone, and she hated that.

“Guys… I- I need to tell you something.” Chloe sighed. She knew that if she didn’t say something now, right at the start then she’d let the opportunity pass. There was never going to be a right moment for this. Beca gently pressed a kiss to her cheek, it being the reassurance that she needed that things were okay.

“What is it?” Jessica asked, a worried smile on her face as she looked at Chloe.

“Are you okay?” Ashley asked, an identical frown of concern on everyone’s faces.

“Yeah, I- it’s something I should have told you all a long time ago…” Chloe untangled herself from Beca’s arms with a soft smile, taking her hand instead as she went to sit on the sofa, her friends taking seats around her, Beca sat on one side of her, Aubrey the other as she placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Are you sure about this Chloe?” The tall blonde asked, a look of concern on her face.

“It’s time Bree. I need to stop running from it.” Chloe gave her a sad smile as the Bellas exchanged confused and concerned looks.

Chloe took a deep breath, looking one last time to Beca who gave her a warm smile, softly squeezing her hand. She turned to the Bellas, a soft smile on her face, “Alright. This isn’t easy, but here goes…”

Chloe told them everything. About Jenny, about her father, about the purity agreement, about escaping to Barden and the incident in her first year. She spent most of the time looking at the floor, drawing strength from the feeling of Beca’s hand in hers, or her head resting on her shoulder. Once she had finished, Chloe wiped away the tears on her cheeks with her free hand. Telling the story of her past hadn’t filled her with the shame she had expected it too, as it had done before, but the fear of seeing their reactions to it was still there. The apartment was silent for a few moments as everyone tried to process what Chloe was telling them, the redhead unable to take her eyes off the floor. It was only when she heard the sound of a chair shift that she looked up, Emily kneeling in front of her as she wrapped her arms around her.

“I love you Chloe. I can’t imagine how hard it’s been for you to have to carry that around with you,” She whispered as she pulled her close, the other Bellas getting to their feet to envelope Chloe in a group hug.

Chloe cried softly into Emily’s shoulder, overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from her family. It was a good ten minutes before anyone moved or spoke again, all of them to concerned with showing Chloe how loved she was. Eventually they broke apart, Chloe smiling softly as the Bellas sat close, some on the back of the sofa, others on the floor, not a dry eye amongst them.

“I um… I never thought I’d be strong enough to tell any of you that.” Chloe sniffed.

“I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re really proud of you Chlo. You’re the strongest person we know.” Jessica smiled warmly as the others nodded, the blonde reaching over to give Chloe’s hand a squeeze.

“I’m not.” Chloe shook her head, “I’m really not… I- I almost did something really stupid before Christmas. It just got too much. If it hadn’t had been for Stacie, I might not be here.”

“It was all you Chloe.” Stacie gently stroked Chloe’s hair as she smiled softly, Aubrey’s hand gently resting on her wife’s thigh as she gave her a proud smile, “You talked yourself down, you got the help you needed. That takes some serious strength honey.”

There were murmurs of agreement from everyone as they  all smiled at Chloe. She looked around at her friends, in awe of just how supportive they all were. She still didn’t quite know what she’d done to deserve them in her life, but she was never more grateful for them than she was right now.

“I’m feeling better now. Stronger.” Chloe sniffed, a small smile on her face, “A lot of it’s thanks to Beca…” Chloe turned to her with a smile.

“It’s because of you that I’m able to.” Beca grinned, lifting Chloe’s hand to her lips and kissing her knuckles.

Chloe tilted her head, a watery smile on her face, “I love you.” She said to Beca before turning to face the rest of them, “I love all of you. You guys are my family, have been since the moment we met. I don’t know where I’d be without any of you.”

“Can I ask a question?” Flo tilted her head, a soft look of concern on her face. Chloe nodded, “Is that why you stayed at Barden so long? For the Bellas?”

Chloe smiled softly, “I didn’t know what else to do. In my head, it was either throw my Russian Lit exam or go home to Portland. So I stayed way longer than I should’ve, but I don’t regret the extra years I got to spend with you guys.” She clarified.

“I’m glad you stayed.” Jessica grinned.

“Me too.” Amy nodded, “Who knows, maybe Bhloe wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t spent extra years pining over each other!”

There was a ripple of laughter through the assembled group as both Chloe and Beca blushed, the brunette rolling her eyes.

“Alright.” Chloe smiled, “Can we talk about anything else?” She sat back, resting her head on Beca’s shoulder, “I love you guys, I would much rather talk about what’s going on with you than this.”

Jessica turned to Ashley with a grin, “Can I tell them now?” She asked, a wide grin on her face.

“I don’t see why not.” Ashley intertwined her fingers with hers as she kissed her cheek.

“We eloped!” Jessica grinned, holding out her left hand to show off the rings.

“What?!” The sounds of excitement and disbelief spread amongst the assembled group as they crowed in, both Jessica and Ashley grinning broadly as their friends congratulated them.

“When did this happen?” Flo grinned.

“Valentine’s Day. We were in New Jersey visiting Ashley’s parents and we just thought, why not? We’ve been together longer than Stacie and Aubrey, and they’re married with a kid, what are we waiting for?” Jessica couldn’t keep the grin off her face, “So we went to Atlantic City, got a marriage licence, and got married.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Cynthia-Rose was beaming from ear to ear.

“And overshadow Beca and Chloe getting back together? Not likely.” Ashley laughed, “Besides, once we organised the reunion, we figured it would be way more fun to tell you in person.”

Chloe smiled warmly as the attention shifted to the details of Ashley and Jessica’s impromptu wedding, her head snuggling closer to the nape of Beca’s neck as the brunette wrapped her arms around her. She felt happier, lighter, more at peace than she thought she ever had.

All too soon, the reunion drew to a close, no-one really wanting to go but all of them unfortunately having lives to return too. Jessica and Ashley were going to be in New Jersey for another week, and had enthusiastically insisted on a couple’s dinner with Stacie, Aubrey, Beca and Chloe for the end of that time, Emily sulking at the fact that both she and Benji had to return to Atlanta for their lives at Barden (Benji taught an Intro to Musical Theatre class whilst Emily was still studying). They filtered out one by one, heading for the airport in dribs and drabs, knowing that it would only be a few months before they were together again for a surprise celebration that Chloe had planned. It was only Aubrey, Stacie, and Amy left, all three of them living in New York. Amy was the first to leave, about an hour after the last of out of state Bellas had left.

“Alright, I gotta go. Can’t leave Toby alone all day!” She sighed, getting up from the sofa.

“Toby?” Beca asked, a frown on her face as she got up from her spot in Chloe’s arms to hug Amy goodbye.

“My tortoise! God, do you even read my emails?” Amy rolled her eyes, hugging Beca tightly.

“Honestly? After the overly graphic one about that sex party you went to, they go straight into my spam folder…” Beca laughed.

“Jeez, I was just trying to keep you guys in the loop, I thought we were supposed to be there for the big moments?” Amy sighed dramatically, “And it was REALLY big…”

“Am I the only one suddenly glad that Bella isn’t here?” Stacie laughed as Aubrey shook her head.

“Look after your girl Shawshank.” Amy grinned as she ignored Stacie’s comment, “She really is the best of us. Even if she is a ginger.” Amy winked at Chloe who giggled before hugging her friend goodbye.

“Thanks Amy. I’m really glad you came.” Chloe smiled as she pulled away.

“Yeah. The place really isn’t the same without you.” Beca grinned.

“Of course it isn’t. But I’m glad you guys had the space you needed to work through stuff.” Amy nodded, “Besides, my new place in Manhattan? The bathroom is bigger than this place.” She winked as she left the apartment, the remaining inhabitants laughing as she did.

“We should get going too.” Stacie smiled, her and Aubrey getting to their feet, “It’s nearly Bella’s bedtime and I wanna kiss her goodnight.”

Stacie wrapped her arms tightly around Chloe first, “I’m so proud of you Chlo. That was so brave, I know it must have been tough on you.” She pulled back and cupped her face in her hands, “You really are the best of us.”

Chloe sniffed, tears forming at the corner of her eyes, “Thanks Stace. For everything. You were right about that therapist, she is great.”

“I know.” Stacie winked as Chloe giggled. Stacie let her hands drop, walking the three steps to Beca before whispering softly to her, “I think we should give them a minute.” Beca nodded, quietly following Stacie into the hall.

Aubrey and Chloe stood opposite each other for a moment, not knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry…” Chloe whispered, looking at her feet.

Aubrey frowned softly, “What for?”

“For not telling you all of it.” Chloe’s voice was so quiet, Aubrey almost missed the response.

“No.” Aubrey pulled Chloe into her arms, “You have nothing to apologise for, you hear me? It is your story to tell as much or as little as you want.”

“I’m still sorry.” Chloe mumbled into her shoulder, arms around her friend, “You’re the first person I ever trusted with any of it. I feel like I should have told you beforehand.”

“You told me what you were ready too.” Aubrey reassured her, “I am so honoured that I’m the person you chose to trust with any of it.” There was a long pause, neither one of them pulling away from the hug, “I’m sorry I told Stacie before you had a chance to.” She eventually managed to mumble, still feeling disproportionately guilty about it.

“You don’t have to apologise for that.” Chloe gently shook her head, “She’s your wife Bree, your soulmate. I get it. Long term, it saved my life. The fact that she already knew meant I could talk it through as I needed to, without worrying about telling her everything.”

They stood in an embrace for five minutes, both women feeling absolved of the things that arguably they need not be, but both of them comfortable in the knowledge that it was given anyway. Eventually, they broke apart, Aubrey quickly wiping away the tears on her cheeks.

“I love you sis.” Aubrey smiled, squeezing Chloe’s hands tight as she headed to the door, the red-head in tow.

“I love you too.” Chloe grinned, giving her one more hug before she left.

Beca smiled at Aubrey as the door opened, making small talk with Stacie outside whilst the two of them talked, “Everything okay?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Aubrey nodded, “Take care of her Mitchell. And yourself.” Aubrey intertwined her fingers with Stacie’s, resting her head on her shoulder.

“Of course.” Beca grinned as Chloe stepped into the hall and wrapped her arms around her waist from behind, “We’ll see you guys at dinner next week?”

“Definitely.” Stacie nodded, the two women waving one last goodbye as they headed to the elevator, hand in hand.

Chloe and Beca re-entered their apartment, Chloe not once removing the arms that were wound tightly around Beca’s middle. Once inside, Beca turned around in her arms so that she was facing her, draping her arms around her neck as the two of them swayed slightly to music only they could hear.

“I am so proud of you today Chloe Beale.” Beca mumbled, her forehead resting on Chloe’s.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you here Beca. I’m serious. You are my strength, my rock, my guiding light in a storm. I love you so much.” Chloe gently pressed her lips against Beca’s, a soft smile on her lips.

“I love you too Chloe.” Beca grinned as they swayed gently. Things were starting to break their way.

A week later, Chloe and Beca were getting ready for dinner with their friends. Chloe was slipping on a pair of heels as she curled her hair, wearing her favourite dark green dress and the necklace that Beca had gotten her for her birthday their final year at Barden.

“You almost ready Becs?” She called over her shoulder, Beca changing in the bathroom.

As well as not sharing a bed, the couple took it in turns to change in the bathroom, there being very little room to change in privacy anywhere else. For any other couple, Beca would question it, but with Chloe she knew it was something that made her feel comfortable, and that was okay by her.

“Yeah, one sec!” Came Beca’s reply as she opened the bathroom door, straightening out her shirt, “Is the suit jacket too much?” She asked with a frown, Chloe turning to look at her.

Beca was wearing a pair of plaid pants, an open coloured white shirt, and a suit jacket that matched her pants. On her feet were the boots her mother had bought her for her birthday, and hair was down and loose, it’s natural curly spring to it. Chloe grinned broadly.

“No. You look beautiful, as usual.” She turned off her curling iron and stood up, smoothing the creases out if her dress as Beca blushed.

“Dude… you look incredible…” She breathed, her mouth suddenly dry as Chloe giggled.

“Thank you sweetie.” Chloe leant in and put a soft kiss on Beca’s lips as she reached her, wrapping her arms around her waist.

Beca bit back the things she wanted to say, knowing that Chloe wasn’t ready for her to say those things yet, instead she simply returned the kiss, a smile on her face as she pulled back.

“Come on. If we stand here admiring how beautiful you are we’re gonna miss dinner.” Beca stroked Chloe’s cheek gently as she took her hand in hers, heading outside to hail a cab.

Twenty minutes later, the cab pulled up outside a nice restaurant, Beca getting out quickly to open Chloe’s door for her and holding out her arm for her girlfriend. Chloe giggled as she took Beca’s arm, the two of them standing arm in arm outside the restaurant.

“You’re such a gentlewoman Beca.” Chloe beamed, kissing her cheek.

“Anything for my favourite girl.” Beca grinned back, leading them into the well lit restaurant, “Reservation for six, under the name Conrad?” Beca smiled at the maître d who looked through his book.

“Ah oui, the rest of your party is yet to arrive, I will show you to your table and get you a drink whilst you wait.” The couple followed the maître d to their table and ordered their drinks; a Shirley Temple for Beca, a glass of white wine for Chloe.

“Are you sure you’re okay with me drinking?” Chloe asked once the drinks had arrived.

“Yeah.” Beca nodded, “I’m doing really well, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve had a drink, I’m in control now.”

“I’m so proud of you.” Chloe smiled as she gently gave Beca’s hand a squeeze under the table.

Beca just grinned at her girlfriend, knowing that Chloe wasn’t really ready for overtly affectionate displays in public just yet, and despite wanting nothing more than to pull her into a kiss, the brunette settled for the feeling of her hand in Chloe’s under the table.

“Hey guys!” Stacie grinned, arm around Aubrey’s waist as the two of them approached the table, “I can’t believe you beat us here.”

“Yeah, you’re really losing your edge Posen.” Beca grinned mischievously as Aubrey rolled her eyes, pulling out a chair for Stacie before sitting down herself.

“I have a toddler, I’m allowed to not be the timekeeper I used to be.” Aubrey raised an eyebrow, ordering a glass of red for Stacie and a Glenmorangie on the rocks for herself.

“Yeah, yeah, you can’t always use Bella as an excuse for everything. Just admit it Cap, you’re getting slow in your old age.” Beca grinned, sipping her drink.

Aubrey simply rolled her eyes again as Stacie chuckled, pressing a soft kiss to her wife’s cheek, “It’s okay baby, I love you wrinkles and all.”

Aubrey scoffed as she turned to look at her wife, “Wrinkles? Do you want to sleep on the couch?”

“Honey, you’d miss me way too much.” Stacie pressed a kiss to her wife’s lips as she grinned, Aubrey knowing she wasn’t able to stay mad at her for long.    

Jessica and Ashley joined them at that moment, hand in hand, blissful smiles on their faces as they joined their friends.

“Hey!” Jessica grinned as they sat down with their friends, a glass of white wine each soon appearing in front of them.

“Hey, there they are!” Chloe smiled broadly, “The newlyweds!”

Ashley giggled as she picked up her menu, head gently resting on Ashley’s shoulder, “I’m glad you guys were all free for dinner before we had to go back to our jobs.”

“Are you guys still doing long distance?” Beca asked, one eye on her friends, the other on the menu.

“Yeah, but not for long hopefully!” Jessica grinned, “I’m looking at hospital jobs in DC, I’ve almost finished my residency.”

“Top of her programme naturally.” Ashley beamed proudly, “She’s got her choice of programmes wherever she wants, they’re falling over themselves to get her to come to their hospitals.”

“Ash…” Jessica blushed, nudging her gently with her shoulder, “Anyway, it shouldn’t be too long before we can live together like a proper married couple.”

“That’s great!” Chloe smiled, “About the med programme and about you guys living together.”

“Thanks Chloe.” Ashley beamed.

The six of them ordered what was bound to be a delicious meal, talking happily about life and work. As their food arrived they continued to chat happily, glad to be in each other’s company in such a relaxed way.

“I can’t believe that you’re the head of your division Stace!” Jessica beamed, one hand intertwined with Ashley’s, the other holding a small fork as she tucked into her lava cake.

“Oh yeah, she’s a regular Einstein.” Aubrey rested her head on Stacie’s shoulder as she smiled proudly, the two of them sharing a crème brulee.

“Nah I just work hard.” Stacie blushed slightly, “I am smart, but make no mistake, you’re the big brain of this outfit.”

Aubrey lifted her head to kiss her wife’s cheek, “I love you.”

Chloe watched her friends cuddle together, saw the domestic comfort of Stacie and Aubrey, the newlywed buzz that Jessica and Ashley had, and she felt a small ache inside her. She wanted that. The ability to be comfortable anywhere with the woman she loved, to be able to do the sort of things that ‘normal’ couples did. Because as much as she loved kissing Beca, there was so much more she wanted to be ready for beyond chaste kisses. She hated that she wasn’t ready for it yet, hated that Beca had to be so patient. Yet as she turned her head to look at the short brunette who was grinning and laughing with their friends, she felt her heart swell. She couldn’t believe how patient she was being with her, how much she’d been through to get here. God she loved her… maybe she was ready for another step.

Once dinner had been had and paid for (Beca and Stacie split the cheque, the highest earners of the group and excluding Jessica and Ashley as this was to celebrate their new marriage), the couples split up outside the restaurant, bidding fond farewells as they went their separate ways. On the cab ride home, Chloe rested her head on Beca’s shoulder, a tired happy smile on her face. Beca wrapped an arm around her shoulders, her heart pounding a little at the unexpected PDA but not for a moment complaining about it.

The walk back up to their apartment was short, done hand in hand as Chloe pressed herself gently against Beca’s side. Neither of them had said a word since they’d said goodbye to their friends, but then again words were rarely needed between them. Once inside, Chloe planted a soft kiss on Beca’s lips, a contented smile on her lips.

“Why don’t you go and get changed? Get into your sweats whilst I make us some hot chocolate?” Chloe grinned.

“Hm… that does sound appealing.” Beca hummed thoughtfully, “You sure you don’t wanna change first?”

“Yeah. I’m sure.” Chloe paused for a second before going to heat the milk up, making them both a hot chocolate, passing one to Beca as she emerged from the bathroom in her sweats, face clean of makeup as she smiled gratefully.

“Thanks Chlo… are you okay?” Beca asked, noticing the look on Chloe’s face.

“Yeah.” Chloe smiled softly, taking Beca’s free hand in hers, “I have a proposition for you.”

“Oh?” Beca frowned softly.

“I… I want us to share a bed. I’ve been thinking about it for a little while now, and tonight at dinner, watching our friends, watching ‘normal’ couples be so content with each other… I want us to get that point Beca. I know it’s slow going Beca, you have no idea how grateful I am that you’re being so patient.” Chloe set her hot chocolate down with a soft sigh, winding her arms around Beca’s waist.

“I miss you in my bed. I’m not saying that we fall asleep in each other’s arms, or do anything beyond sleeping, but I wanna wake up and see your face, to have you just an arm’s reach away. I know it’s not much, but-” Chloe was starting to ramble as Beca cupped her cheek with her free hand, setting her hot chocolate down as well.

“Chloe. It’s a huge step for you, don’t devalue that. I’m ready for this if you are. I never want to push you too far, or make you do anything you’re uncomfortable with, I want to do this right this time. So give me the word, and I will fold away that sofa bed faster than you can blink.” Beca cupped Chloe’s face in her hands, smiling warmly, “But please don’t do this because you think we should… do it because you want to.”

“I do want to.” Chloe smiled, a tear slipping down her cheek, “Even it’s just opposite sides of the bed right now, I want us to be normal…”

“Hate to break it you dude, but we’re not normal…” Beca chuckled, “There’s no such thing as normal, as a normal couple. We’re doing this at our pace because that’s what works for us, because nobody else can tell us what is right for us.”

“I love you…” Chloe whispered, “Come to bed with me? Sleep on the other side of the bed with your hand in mine so I can wake up knowing that you’re right by my side where I need you the most.”

“I would be honoured.” Beca grinned, pressing a soft kiss to her lips, “Do you ever think we’re too sappy for own good sometimes?” She laughed, blushing a little.

“Maybe… but after a year and a half of misery I feel like we’ve earned some overly sappy moments along the way.” Chloe chuckled, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Go change.” Beca smiled, “I’m gonna pack the sofa bed away, we can figure out what to do with the extra bedding tomorrow.”

“Sounds great.” Chloe beamed, “Are you sure you’re ready for this? I’m not pushing you too hard?”

“I’m ready.” Beca nodded, planting a soft kiss on Chloe’s lips.

As Chloe disappeared into the bathroom, Beca enthusiastically yanked her bedding off the bed as she folded it up, a small smile on her lips as she looked at the sofa that was now returned to its primary purpose. A pair of arms wound around her waist, soft kisses on her neck as she rested her arms on top of Chloe’s.

“Come to bed?” Chloe asked as Beca turned her head to kiss her cheek.

“Okay.” Beca grinned.

She followed Chloe to the bed, hesitating for a moment before she got under the covers, lying so she was facing Chloe, a gap between them as they both smiled. Chloe slowly reached out and took Beca’s hand, stroking her thumb over Beca’s knuckles.

“Hi.” She whispered.

“Hi.” Beca whispered back, her eyes on Chloe’s as they both grinned like idiots.

“I love you Becs.” Chloe mumbled, eyes starting to flutter shut.

“I love you too Chloe.” Beca smiled, “Get some sleep baby, I’m right here.”

“M’kay.” Chloe smiled as she slipped off to sleep, Beca’s hand in hers reassuring her that she had everything she needed.

This was how Chloe and Beca spent every night over the next few weeks, hand in hand, the gap between them getting smaller and smaller. It was a month and a half later and Beca was already in bed, half asleep when Chloe came in through the front door.

“Ugh.” She groaned, dropping her bag unceremoniously by the door, shrugging her jacket off and letting it hit the floor too as she pulled the hair tie from her hair.

“Chlo? What happened, it’s like one am…” Beca mumbled as she clambered out of bed, going to wrap her arms around the redhead who let her head drop onto her shoulder.

“Stupid vet school. Stupid exams. Stupid graveyard shifts at the rescue clinic.” Chloe grumbled with a heavy sigh.

“Baby, can I ask you something?” Beca pressed a kiss to Chloe’s temple, “Do you really want to be a vet?”

Chloe sniffed slightly as she lifted her head off Beca’s shoulder, “What?”

Beca took her hand in hers and lead her to the sofa, sitting down next to her as she smiled softly, “Vet school makes you miserable, the clinic is downright depressing, and all these long hours are killing you… is it really what you want to do?”

“I-” Chloe started, running a hand through her hair, “I don’t know… I don’t know what I want to do…” She lifted her head to look at Beca, biting her lip, “Would you hate me if I dropped out? If I didn’t know what to do with my life?”

“Oh sweetie of course not!” Beca tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, “If you’re this unhappy Chlo and it’s not what you want, then we’ll figure out what it is you do want to do. You deserve to be happy Chloe.”

Chloe sniffed as she wiped a few tears from her eyes with her free hand, the other still in Beca’s which she squeezed softly, “Will we be okay though? I know that my income from the clinic isn’t great, but-”

“We’ll be absolutely fine.” Beca grinned, “I um… so technically we could afford a nicer place on just my salary, but whilst we’re both still a little fragile I figured it was better that we stayed here.” She rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly.

Chloe chuckled, “Of course, I don’t why that didn’t occur to me Miss Senior Producer.” She rested her head on Beca’s shoulder again as she sighed, “I’m dropping out Beca. I hate it there, and honestly it’s not what I want to do… I don’t know what I want to do but it isn’t that.”

“That’s okay baby. We’ll figure it out.” Beca ran a hand through Chloe’s hair, “But right now, we’re gonna go to sleep okay?”

Chloe nodded, letting Beca lead her to the bed as she kicked off her shoes. Yawning loudly, she clambered in next to Beca, resting her head on the brunette’s shoulder as she splayed her hand across her stomach. Beca froze for a second, the feeling of having Chloe’s head on her chest making her heart skip. A small smile crept onto her lips as she rested her arm on top of Chloe’s, the other around her shoulders.

“Thanks Beca.” Chloe mumbled, snuggling closer, “I love you.”

“I love you too Chloe.” Beca kissed the top of her head as both of them began to doze, neither of them saying a word, but both of them revelling in how big a step this was for them.

Chloe dropped out of vet school the next day and put all her focus for the following week into planning Beca’s surprise party. The brunette was almost a year sober, a whole year since the emotional intervention that had seen Beca at her lowest point, but instead of focusing on the sadness and the pain of it all, Chloe wanted to celebrate how far Beca had come.

All the Bellas had arrived whilst Beca was at work, and her parents had all managed to get time off for it as well. Ellie grinned at Chloe as the redhead straightened the colourful streamers.

“It looks great in here Chloe!” She placed a hand on Chloe’s shoulder, giving it an affectionate squeeze.

“Yeah? Not too much?” Chloe bit her lip nervously as she looked around the apartment at the balloons and the ‘Congratulations!’ banner, the Bellas happily chatting and catching up with each other and with Hank and Shelia.

“It’s very you honey, she’s gonna love it.” Ellie laughed as Chloe blushed a little.

“What time is she finishing work?” Hank asked, smiling warmly.

“Five pm. Hopefully…” Chloe frowned a little, “If she isn’t working late that is… but she usually texts me before now if she is.”

“Trust Shawshank to be late to her own party!” Amy rolled her eyes.

“A party she doesn’t know she’s having…” Aubrey countered, an eyebrow raised in amusement.

“Still! It’s rude!” Amy protested, arms crossed across her chest as the Bellas all shared bemused looks.

Before anyone could respond, there was the sound of keys in the door lock. Chloe grinned as she gestured for everyone to be quiet, knowing that there was no way to hide all of them in their tiny studio apartment. Beca yawned slightly as she entered her apartment, running a sleepy hand through her hair before jumping out of her skin as she saw the assembled group in her apartment.

“What the-” She started, clutching her chest.

“Surprise!” They yelled, Chloe walking over to her girlfriend and wrapping her into a hug, kissing her temple.

“Why does this feel like déjà vu?” Beca chuckled weakly, leaning her head against Chloe’s shoulder as she got her breathing back under control.

Chloe laughed as she held her tight, “Sorry for scaring you baby… but we wanted to throw you a surprise party.”

“Chloe was the one who wanted the surprise element.” Amy clarified, an eyebrow raised as Chloe shot her a look.

“I love it honey.” Beca reassured her, “Now that I’m not having a heart attack anymore it’s really sweet…”

Chloe beamed as the Bellas and Beca’s parents joined them, each of them hugging Beca tight as she pulled herself reluctantly away from the redhead. Normally, Beca hates hugging anyone that isn’t Chloe, but today of all days she was just grateful that they’d all come her to support her and celebrate a year sober.

“You guys really all came all the way here for this?” Beca asked tearily, as Chloe put her arm around her waist.

“Of course we did honey.” Ellie grinned, all of the assembled group wiping tears from their eyes, “We’re all so proud of you, you’ve come so far.”

“Thanks mom. I couldn’t have done it without you, without any of you.” Beca smiled at her family, “Especially you.” She turned to look at Aubrey, a dumb grin on her face, “You were there when I needed you the most, when I almost slipped, when I thought I wasn’t strong enough to see it through.”

“It’s what family’s for Beca.” Aubrey smiled softly.

“And you…” Beca turned to look at Chloe, arms draped around her neck, “My Chloe. I’d be nowhere without you, even when you’re struggling you’re the greatest person in my life, always have been.”

Chloe blushed a little as she pulled Beca closer, biting her lip a little, “I’ll always have your back Becs, no matter what.” She pressed a soft kiss to her lips, momentarily forgetting that the Bellas and Beca’s parents were all there looking on. It was only when Ellie coughed pointedly that the two broke apart with a deep blush on both their faces.

“Ha, sorry…” Beca chuckled as she turned back to the rest of her family.

“It’s fine.” Ellie chuckled, “We’re just glad you guys are happy… though we’d rather not see that again!” She grimaced as she gestured her hand at the couple.

“Okay, let’s get this party started shall we!” Chloe grinned, desperate to change the subject as she moved to start handing out glasses of sparkling cider to everyone, “A toast. To Beca and how far she’s come in the last year.”

“To family.” Beca countered, unwilling to be centre of attention, even now, “And the things you can achieve when people have your back.”

“To family!” They cheered, glasses raised before they all took a large sip.

And so they celebrated. Celebrated Beca’s year of sobriety. Celebrated the happiness in their lives after so much sadness. Celebrated having a reunion all together that wasn’t coloured by something painful.

Beca made her way over to Cynthia-Rose, a soft smile on her face as she passed her a soft drink, “Hey, how’s the air force treating you?”

“Pretty well! I’m being promoted next week!” Cynthia-Rose grinned.

“Dude that’s awesome!” Beca punched her arm gently, a beaming smile on her face.

“Thanks! They all know, before you ask. Lilly and Flo are gonna come to the ceremony which will be great! And my folks too.” Cynthia-Rose leant back against the wall with a proud look on her face.

There was a comfortable pause for a moment before Beca looked to her friend again. “Can I ask you something?” She asked, a worried look on her face.

“Sure! What’s up?” Cynthia-Rose frowned slightly as her and Beca sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Does it ever get completely better?” Beca mumbled, running a hand through her hair, “Like… will the hollow feeling in my chest ever disappear completely? That want to drink? I know gambling is different, but you’re the only person I can ask, I feel stupid about even the idea of asking the question in a meeting…” She grinned sheepishly.

“It’s absolutely fine Beca, it’s what I’m here for.” Cynthia-Rose grinned, “Honestly? It never completely goes away. There’s always going to be that voice in the back of your head that wants you to drink, that tells you that you can just do it once and it will be okay. You are going to have to fight every day for the rest of your life, and some days it’s going to be really hard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”

“I just…” Beca sighed softly, “I’m sick of having to fight all the time y’know?”

“I know. And you’ve had to fight so much, and so hard.” Cynthia-Rose put an arm around Beca’s shoulders, “But I know you. You’ve got this Becs. And that voice in your head gets quieter over time. Easier to ignore. Hell, there are days where I don’t hear it at all.”

“Yeah?” Beca asked with a watery smile.

“Yeah. You can do this Beca, you’ve done the hardest part, the first year. All you have to do is maintain it. And look around you, you’ve got the greatest support system in the world.” Cynthia- Rose grinned as Beca chuckled, wiping a few tears away with the back of her hand, “Especially Chloe. I’m glad you crazy kids figured everything out, you guys are made for each other. I know we take the mick out of you guys a lot, but we’re all really rooting for you guys.”

Beca grinned as she blushed a little, “Me too… I’m mad that it’s taken us so long to figure this out, but god am I glad we did.” She looked over at Chloe who was laughing with her mom about something, “I really love her y’know?”

“Yeah, I kinda figured that when you guys started sucking face in front of us without a second thought.” Cynthia-Rose laughed as Beca gave her a playful shove.

The party was in full swing, the Bellas enjoying being together for any reason at all and Beca’s parents blending into the dynamic with surprising ease. It was the easiest gathering they’d had in a long time. So when a loud knock came at the door, it went unheard by the happy crowd, the laughter and the music drowning out the harsh knocking. It was only when the door was thrust open, practically knocking it off its hinges that anyone noticed what was going on.

“Chloe Beale!” The menacing figure in the doorway yelled, all the colour draining from Chloe’s face as the glass she was holding slipping from her fingers.

“D-dad… what’re you doing here?” Chloe gasped, trembling as her mouth went dry.

Beca stiffened, stepping protectively in front of Chloe, jaw tight, eyes narrow as she stared him down, “You’re not welcome here.”

“Shut up. This does not concern you.” Jack growled, stepping further into the apartment. Chloe was frozen to the spot, her whole body tense. What the hell was he doing here? How did he even know where she lived?

Unnoticed by Chloe at that moment, the Bellas stepped closer to Chloe, forming something of a protective bubble around her as Beca’s parents moved so that Chloe’s father could see them, Hank especially. Hopefully the presence of another male in the room might dissuade potential violence.

“Where is he?” Jack demanded, taking a menacing step towards Chloe as the bubble around her tightened, Stacie’s hand on her shoulder giving it a gentle squeeze.

“Where’s who?” Chloe asked, her voice shaking a little, but as she looked around her and saw her family so close to her, not flinching or running away, strengthened her.

“Your brother. I know you know where he is, this has your heathenous stench all over it.” He spat, fists clenched tight.

“Luke? What happened to Luke?” Chloe frowned. Growing up had been hell for both of them, and although Chloe had bore the brunt of it, she knew that he hadn’t escaped the brunt of their father’s wrath.

“You know full well. He ran off to join you here. Left a note saying he was going to New York to follow his dreams like you did. It’s not enough that you condemn yourself, you have to drag everyone else down as well?!” The vein in the side of his head was pulsating as he went red with rage.

“I haven’t seen Luke. I didn’t know he’d left Portland.” Chloe shook her head, her chest pounding, but somehow, stood here with her family she felt safe. Even with her father towering over most of the assembled group, despite the fear that was coursing through her she was able to stand strong.

“He’s not here.” Beca confirmed, arms crossed across her chest, eyes steely as she continued to stare him down. She wanted to wrap her arms around Chloe to really rub it in her father’s face but she wasn’t going to push anything.

“You’re a liar Chloe Beale!” Jack Beale growled, going to take another menacing step towards his daughter, get right in her face, bit a certain blonde former a cappella captain had stomached as much as she could.

Aubrey stepped forward, fists clenched, Stacie feeling her breath catch in her throat as she watched her wife step directly into the violent man’s path. Aubrey’s eyes were aflame with rage as years of swallowed rage rose to the surface.

“Back off asshole.” She spat, “You don’t get to show up here and treat her like this. She isn’t your property, your plaything, she’s a human being. She’s more amazing than you could ever understand you piece of shit.”

“How dare you-” Jack started, vein pulsating violently in the side of his head.

“I’m not finished!” Aubrey cut him off, eyes narrowed to slits, “How dare I? How dare I what? Stand up for my friend? Have the audacity to tell you to your face exactly what I think of you, you sick fuck? You might have got by in life intimidating people into doing what you want, but you don’t scare me asshole. You’re just a frightened little man who’s overcompensating for his inadequacies.”

Her eyes flitted down as she watched his clenched fist rise a couple of inches and then fall back to his side. She smirked, shaking her head mockingly, “Go ahead. I dare you. Hit me in this room full of witnesses, in front of an Air Force officer and a federal agent. In front of my Krav Maga trained wife. I fucking dare you big guy. Do it, and I’ll sue your ass into the ground.”

Stacie really wished in that moment that she’d brought her softball bat (even though it was a party and she had no need to). Her heart pounded as she watched her wife stand up to a man who surpassed every nightmare she could possibly concoct. And yet, as she watched her wife stand tall and unwavering, she couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride; that was her badass wife.

“But before you swing your fists around like the ape you are, know this. Chloe Beale is perhaps the most incredible person in the whole world. She’s kind, and smart, and funny, and loyal, and so full of love. She is beautiful inside and out, and if your God ever created anything it’s Chloe.”

Tears began to fall down Chloe’s cheeks as she smiled softly. Watching Aubrey stand up for her like this was overwhelming, and not something she thought she ever deserved. But watching it happen, Chloe felt more love than she ever had.

“How dare you come here. How dare you show your face after what you did. You took a beautiful, smart girl and twisted your religion to fit the sick ideas in your head. And look at her, she’s still standing, she’s still fighting, she’s still incredible because you. Can’t. Break her. She is more amazing than you have ever deserved, and if anyone here is a damned heathen then it’s you.” The anger in Aubrey was causing her to shake a little, steadied by Stacie who stepped forward to wrap an arm around her waist, having no intention of leaving Aubrey standing up against him any longer.

“You have no ties to her anymore, you gave up that right when you did what you did. You gave her a choice and she made it. She chose Beca. She chose us. So take your fist swinging, your tiny dick syndrome, and your bullshit and leave her the fuck alone.”

“She doesn’t need you.” Stacie cut in, “We’re her family.”

“Damn right.” Cynthia-Rose came and stood next to the couple.

“The Bellas are forever.” Jessica and Ashley stepped forward hand in hand, Ashley doing the talking for both of them, “Chloe taught us that.”

“She gave us a family when some of us had none.” Lilly practically shouted (for her at least).

“Gave us a home when we had none.” Flo nodded, turning her head to smile at the redhead.

“Made us feel like we could be anything we wanted to be.” Emily smiled warmly, a determined look in her eyes.

“Put up with us living on top of each other with barely a complaint.” Amy grinned.

“Chloe’s amazing.” Beca nodded, “I don’t care what you or your god thinks. I love her, I couldn’t love anyone else like I love her. She’s my whole world.”

Chloe was crying as she watched the Bellas stand up for her like this. She’d always called them her family, but a part of her hadn’t entirely believed it until just now. What she’d done to be loved like this she would never be quite sure, but it was the best thing in the world.

“Do you really think you children are enough to be any kind of family?” He sneered.

“Yeah they are.” Ellie smirked nastily, an eyebrow raised, “They’re grown ass women. You know they’re in their 30s yeah? Successful business owners. Medical professionals. Leaders in their fields. And even if they weren’t, she’s got us. We raised Beca really well, me, Sheila and Hank. She definitely doesn’t need an asshole like you.”

Jack Beale stood in the middle of the apartment, looking at the group of people in front of him incredulously, before his eyes settled on his tear stained daughter’s face again, his jaw tight, vein throbbing in his forehead, scarlet with rage.

“I’m giving you one last chance Chloe Beale. You either come home right now, leave these heathens behind forever, or you stay here and never hear from your mother again, which means no more secret letters or emails either.”

That was how he knew Chloe realised. God only knew the state her mother was in back home. Taking a deep breath, Chloe stepped forward, winding her arms around Beca’s waist, turning her around so that she was facing her as she planted a soft kiss on her lips. Her heart pounded as she did so, but as Beca returned the kiss, sliding her hands up her back to pull her close, she knew that there was never any other choice to make but this one. Pulling away, she turned to look at her father who looked as though he might have an aneurysm.

“Get out Jack. Don’t ever come here again.” Her voice was hard as Beca squeezed her hand, leaning softly against her, “And leave Luke alone. You’ve done enough damage.”

“You’re making a huge mistake-” He growled.

“She said get out.” Aubrey narrowed her eyes again, speaking through gritted teeth.

Jack simply shook his head, leaving the apartment, the door slamming shut behind him. Chloe let out the breath she didn’t realise she’d been holding as Beca pulled her as close as she could, head buried in her neck as she pressed soft kisses on her shoulder. The brunette could feel Chloe trembling as she held her tightly.

“I’m so proud of you.” Beca whispered, “I’m so, so proud of you baby.”

Chloe said nothing as she let her head drop onto Beca’s shoulder, sobbing a little as all the emotions that she’d been holding in. She felt another pair of arms wrap around her from behind as Aubrey hugged her, the other Bellas falling in one by one and joining the group hug. The experience had been draining on them all, and there were more than a few tears as they stood in each other’s arms for a good five minutes. It was Chloe who eventually broke the hug, a watery grin on her face as she carefully prised herself from their arms.

“I did it.” She whispered, “I stood up to him.”

Beca beamed as she gently stroked Chloe’s cheek, “Yeah you did. I’m so proud of you.”

“We all are.” Aubrey gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.

“How long have you been sat on that speech Rottweiler?” Amy chuckled, an eyebrow raised as Aubrey blushed a little.

“Sorry… I guess I’ve been wanting to say that for a while.” Aubrey rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. Chloe turned so she was facing her, hugging her tight.

“I’ll never be able to tell you just how much that meant to me Bree.” She mumbled into her hair as the blonde hugged her back.

“I love you Chlo, I’d have killed him if it wasn’t somewhat illegal…” Aubrey narrowed her eyes again as she pulled back, Stacie smacking a hand to her forehead.

“You and I need to have another conversation about you not confronting insane and violent men.” Stacie raised an eyebrow, an unimpressed look on her face.

“I’m sorry…” Aubrey winced as she leant back against her wife, “At least I wasn’t shot this time?” She lifted her head to press a kiss to her jaw.

Stacie sighed as she pulled Aubrey close, rolling her eyes, “Hmm… it’s such a low standard…”

“Alright kids, let’s get some hot tea into all of you.” Ellie smiled warmly as she headed for the kitchen, Beca and Chloe having just enough mugs for all of them (Chloe used to buy one from a tourist gift shop every time the Barden Bellas were at competition).

“I thought we were grown ass women?” Beca asked, a cheeky grin on her face as she teased her mother.

“You don’t want tea?” Her mother asked, eyebrows raised.

“I didn’t say that.” Beca frowned as Chloe laughed, kissing her cheek.

“I’m gonna help your mom, you go and sit down.” She smiled warmly.

“You sure?” Beca frowned deeper, not really wanting to let Chloe out of her arms just yet.

“Yeah. I’m okay, and she is making like fifteen cups of tea.” Chloe kissed her cheek again as Beca nodded, letting her follow Ellie to the kitchen.

Ellie smiled as Chloe helped to put tea bags into cups, filling the kettle with water. Once it was boiling, Ellie took advantage of the fact that the rest of them wouldn’t be able to overhear them.

“Are you really okay?” She asked, turning to look at Chloe who smiled a little.

“I really am.” The redhead sounded as surprised as anyone, “I always felt like things went unsaid, that I’d never really got the closure I needed. But today? Watching everyone step in like that without me having to ask for it? Being able to stand up for myself knowing that I had all of you around me? I knew I was going to be okay.”

There was a pause as they made the tea, before Chloe asked the question that was on the tip of her tongue, “Um… did you mean what you said? About you, Hank and Shelia being there for me too?” Chloe looked down at the tea, not daring to look up at the older woman.

“Last Thanksgiving, the three of us had a conversation.” Ellie started, not looking at Chloe for no other reason than she was trying to make sure that Chloe wasn’t under any pressure to respond or react just yet, “We could see you were struggling, and Beca told me a little about what had happened before you guys met. No details, just that you’d had a rough time. She told me about Portland after our first Thanksgiving together too, the choice you had to make. So Hank and Shelia and I had a conversation.”

“About me?” Chloe’s voice was barely a whisper as she stirred the cups one by one.

“Yeah. But not in a bad way. We adore you Chloe, Beca’s girlfriend or not. So we agreed to give you the family, or at the very least the parents that you needed. Because you are family honey. In whatever way you choose, you are going to be a part of Beca’s life forever, which means you’re going to be part of ours as well. I love you as much as I love Beca, you are my kid whether you want to be or not. You’re stuck with me now Chloe.” Ellie winked at her as she gave her a playful nudge, Chloe sniggering a little as she beamed.

“Thank you.” Chloe mumbled, leaning against Beca’s mom for a second.

“Anytime kiddo.” Ellie put an arm around her shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze, “Now c’mon. Let’s get these teas handed out before they go cold.”

A few hours later, the Bellas and Beca’s parents left, returning to their hotels and apartments. All except Aubrey and Stacie who hung back for a moment.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Aubrey asked, a worried look on her face as she dithered by the door, Stacie’s hand in hers, an equally concerned look on her face too, “We can stay longer, Bella can have a sleepover at her grandma’s she’ll love that!”

“Bree, I’m okay.” Chloe gave her a warm but tired smile, “I really am. Besides, you know you want to go home and hug your daughter.”

“And she’s got me.” Beca grinned, winding her arms around Chloe’s waist as she kissed her cheek, “We’re gonna be okay. Take your Krav Maga trained wife and go spend time with Bella before she has to go to bed.”

Stacie laughed as she shook her head, “Alright, we’ll go. But tomorrow we’re having brunch okay? No excuses.”

“Sounds good.” Chloe smiled as Aubrey hugged her once more, tightly and warmly.

“I love you Chloe, I’m so proud of you.” She whispered, sniffing a little as she held back her tears.

“I love you too Bree.” Chloe hugged her tightly back, waving them goodbye after Aubrey finally broke away.

Once they were alone, Chloe felt the strength leave her body as she sank to her knees, Beca wrapping her in her arms as she did so, pulling her into her chest.

“I’ve got you, you’re okay.” Beca whispered into her hair.

“I know.” Chloe whispered, “I’m okay, I’m just tired. I’m so tired.”

“I’m so proud of you baby.” Beca stroked Chloe’s hair as she lay her head on her shoulder, “You are the greatest person I know, I love you so damn much.”

“I love you too.” Chloe smiled softly, lifting her head to plant a soft kiss on Beca’s lips, “I’m sorry it ruined your party.”

“Hey.” Beca frowned, “Are you kidding? Watching you tell your dad to get out? Watching Bree go off on him? Best party ever.” She chuckled.

“Can we go to bed?” Chloe asked, a smirk on her face at Beca’s response, “Feels like it’d be more comfortable than the floor.”

“Yeah. Can you stand?” Beca asked, getting to her feet.

Chloe nodded as she used Beca’s arm to pull herself up, the two of them soon lay side by side in bed, not caring that they were still wearing their clothes from the day, Chloe curled up with her head on Beca’s chest, the brunette’s arm around her shoulders.

“I’m proud of you too y’know?” Chloe mumbled, “For going a whole year without drinking… oh!” Chloe sat up and reached into her bedside cabinet draw, pulling out a medium sized jewellery box, “I got you this. I was gonna give it you at the party but, well…”

“Chloe…” Beca grinned as she took it from her, “You didn’t have to get me anything.”

“I know. But I wanted to.” Chloe rested her head on Beca’s shoulder as the brunette opened the box.

Inside was a silver bracelet engraved on the outside with music notes, and as Beca lifted it out of the box, she saw engraved on the inside the date “04/14/18”, the date of her first day sober.

“Oh Chlo…” She gasped, “It’s beautiful. I love it.”

“Yeah?” Chloe bit her lip as she looked up at her, “You really like it?”

“I really do,” Beca nodded, a tear slipping down her cheek as she leant down and kissed her softly, “Put it on me?” She mumbled shyly, offering Chloe the bracelet and her wrist.

Chloe slipped it on, pressing a soft kiss to Beca’s knuckles as she did, “I love you Becs, I’m so proud of you.”

“Ditto.” Beca grinned as Chloe settled on her chest again.

It wasn’t long before they were asleep in each other’s arms, exhausted from the emotional toll of the day but, a year on from when they were at their lowest possible point, they slept easily and comfortably for the first time.

Two weeks later Chloe and Beca were at home curled up on the sofa. Beca was enjoying a rare day off, her job keeping her incredibly busy but happy. Chloe was still trying to figure out what it was that she wanted to do, still struggling to comprehend the idea that she was allowed to do what she wanted. They were watching a cheesy rom-com that Chloe had given her best puppy dog eyes to Beca for, when a knock came at the door. Beca kissed Chloe’s forehead as she got up to open the door, a soft frown and a bemused look on her face as she opened the door.

“Um… this feels like déjà vu…” Beca mumbled, seeing a stressed and ashen faced Benji stood just outside their apartment, Chloe getting up off the sofa and smiling at Benji.

“Chloe, thank god you’re here, I really need you!” Benji looked past Beca to the redhead who looked confused as Beca moved to let Benji in.

“Benji? What’re you doing here?” Chloe asked as the young performer practically bounced over to her as he ran a hand through his hair.

“Chloe, I need you. I’m in a production of Rent, off-Broadway, and the choreographer is out of action. He got in a car crash and broke his femur so he’ll be out of action for months and there’s no-one else. You’re the best choreographer I know, please say you’ll help!” Benji had Chloe’s hands tight in his as he pleaded with her.

“Ben, I don’t know anything about choreographing a musical!” Chloe started, a look of shock on her face.

“But you are a great choreographer Chlo.” Beca smiled, “The reason the Bellas were the unstoppable force of the ICCAs is because you knew how to make our performances stand out. The music is all well and good, but if it’s bland to look at, if it’s dull and lifeless, no-one cares.”

“I- I did love choreographing for the Bellas…” Chloe mused.

“Chloe, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think you were the best person for the job.” Benji smiled.

Chloe bit her lip as she looked from Benji to Beca and back again. Their faces were full of love and support, Benji’s still creased a little with stress. She sighed softly, taking her hands from his as she run a hand through her hair.

“It feels like a lifetime ago since I choreographed anything… what if I screw it up? What if I’m not good enough? It’s not like I have any professional training.”

“Chloe.” Beca walked over to Chloe, putting a hand on her shoulder as she smiled softly, “You are so talented, and Rent is your favourite musical, you’ll nail it. What if this is the thing you were meant to do with your life?”

“You really think so?” Chloe whispered, looking at the floor. Beca gently lifted her chin so she was looking at her, a warm and loving smile on her face.

“I believe you can do anything you set your mind to. You’re Chloe Beale, you can do anything.” Beca grinned.

There was a quiet pause as Chloe pondered the idea. She did miss choreographing for the Bellas, it had been one of her favourite things about being a part of Barden’s all female a cappella team, and it was one of the few times in her life she had felt like she was good at something. Sure, she had no professional training or qualifications, but surely seven years of experience that had seen them win five ICCAs and the Worlds had to count for something?

“Okay.” Chloe whispered, turning to Benji with a smile, “I’ll give it a go.”

“Really?” He gasped, a huge grin on his face, “Oh my god Chloe you’re my hero!” Benji pulled her into a tight as Chloe giggled.

“Hey!” Beca cried, “I thought I was your hero for helping you with The Last Five Years?”

“Well… I mean…” Benji stammered, starting to blush as he pulled away from Chloe.

“Beca leave him alone!” Chloe rolled her eyes, giving her girlfriend a gentle shove, “When do you need me at the theatre?”

“Friday at nine am?” Benji asked, “I’ll text you the address when I get back to my place?”

“Your place? Is it not in New York?” Chloe asked with a frown.

“Oh no it is, I started renting an apartment here in the city, Em’s coming to join when she graduates in a couple of months.” Benji smiled proudly.

“You guys are moving to New York?” Beca’s grin widened, “Dude that’s awesome!”

“Yeah, I’m getting more and more parts off Broadway and Emily wants to try and get a deal with a record company up here, so it just made sense for me to come here and set up whilst she’s finishing college.” Benji shrugged.

“Forget the other labels, tell her to call me.” Beca raised an eyebrow as she grabbed her work bag and pulled a business card from it, “Best to do it through official channels.” She said as she passed it to Benji, “But there’s no way I’m letting a talent like that slip through our fingers. And she’s family.” Beca quickly added as she blushed a little.

“That’s great Benji.” Chloe smiled as she rolled her eyes at Beca, “It’ll be great to have you both in NYC where we can see you all the time!”

“It’ll be great!” Benji grinned, “Okay, I have to go give the director the good news, and get started on rehearsals. Thank you Chloe, you’ve saved my backside here!”

“Anytime Benji. I’m actually really excited for this!” Chloe beamed as Beca wound her arms around Chloe’s waist.

Three weeks later it was opening night. Beca got herself dressed up to go with Chloe, excited to see her girlfriend’s handiwork first-hand, and of course support Benji. Chloe was pacing nervously when Beca exited the bathroom, chewing her lip in the way she always did when she was stressed.

“Hey.” Beca walked over to Chloe and caught her hand as she paced past her, “Ten minutes?” She offered.

Chloe just nodded as she pulled Beca into her arms, burying her face in her neck as Beca glanced at her watch so she could make sure that they weren’t going to be late. Not that it mattered to her, she just knew that it would probably stress Chloe out more. Approximately ten minutes later, Chloe pulled away, resting her forehead on Beca’s as she sighed softly.

“I’m so scared it’s going to go wrong tonight. That people are gonna hate it.” Chloe whispered.

“I know. I get it.” Beca smiled softly as she intertwined her fingers with Chloe’s, “I have every faith in you Chlo, you’ve worked so hard. I’m really proud of you.”

“Thanks Beca.” Chloe smiled softly, “The fact that you’ve been so supportive through all of this… it means more to me than I can say.”

Chloe thought over what Beca had put up with for the last few weeks: her absence from the apartment, the non-stop blaring of the Rent soundtrack as Chloe tried to figure out her choreography, the pacing and sleepless nights. It had been a long three weeks, but aside from the anxiety that she was feeling, Chloe couldn’t help feeling a little proud, and dare she say… happy.

“Of course baby. It’s what we do.” Beca gave her a soft kiss as she gently started to pull her towards the door, “Come on. Don’t wanna be late for your debut!”

Chloe rolled her eyes as she followed Beca out of the apartment, feeling her heart pound in the same way that it had before every performance with the Bellas. There was some comfort in this familiar feeling of anxiety, and even as she sat in the front row, her palms sweaty, she couldn’t help but grin as she watched the musical. Watching her word work pay off, watching her vision brought to life, and of course watching Benji absolutely crush his part as Mark; it might quite possibly be the best night of her life. As the final curtain fell, the audience were on their feet, applauding loudly, whooping, cheering. Beca leant in so that Chloe could hear here over the noise:

“I’m so proud of you Chlo! The choreography was incredible, it might be your best work yet!” She all but yelled over the noise as a light blush spread across Chloe’s cheeks. There was no time for a reply however as Benji took advantage of the quiet lull in the theatre.

“Ladies and gentlemen thank you so much for coming out tonight! We’d just like to bring your attention to someone else who deserves your applause tonight. When our choreographer broke his leg we thought we wouldn’t be able to go ahead with the show, but thanks to a wonderfully talented woman who happens to be a very dear friend of mine we were able to keep going. Chloe, get up here!” Benji gestured for Chloe to join them on stage as the ginger shook her head, blushing an even deeper shade of red as people turned to look at her.

Beca gave her a gentle nudge as Benji beckoned to her again, leaning down to grab her hand and carefully pull her onto the stage. Chloe was the same shade of red as her hair as she sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck, biting her lip as the audience were in uproar again, the praise deafening as Chloe awkwardly curtseyed a little, Beca whistling loudly as she thought she might burst with pride.

As the curtain fell Benji hugged Chloe tightly, beaming as she hugged him back tightly. The rest of the cast came over to hug and congratulate her too, Beca appearing with a proud smile on her face as she was lead backstage to see her girlfriend.

“Chloe you’re a genius!” Benji grinned, “You saved the show, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.” The rest of the cast mumbled in agreement as Beca ran over to pull her into a hug.

“My girl’s amazing!” She exclaimed as Chloe giggled, hugging her back.

“Thank you. All of you.” Chloe beamed as she looked around at them, “You didn’t have to take a chance on me, I really appreciate it.”

“Chloe, darling!” The director grinned as he appeared backstage, grabbing her hands and twirling her around, “That was magnificent, you’re a rare treasure!”

“Thank you.” Chloe mumbled, steadying herself as they stopped spinning, Beca gently steadying her, “Andy this is Beca, my girlfriend.” She smiled as she introduced them, “Becs this is the director Andy.”

“You have excellent taste my dear.” Andy grinned as he shook Beca’s hand, “What a beautiful little sprite are.”

“Thank you?” Beca had a bemused look on her face as she turned to Chloe.

“Chloe. How would you like a full time job here as the in-house choreographer?” Andy turned back to Chloe as she gasped in shock.

“Are you serious?!” Chloe couldn’t quite believe this was happening. Beca was grinning from ear to ear as she looked to Benji who looked equally as surprised and happy as she did.

“Absolutely! I was talking to Tony who owns this place and neither of us want to lose someone as talented as you to another theatre!” Andy was grinning as Chloe opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water.

“I-  I um- I don’t know what to say…” Chloe stammered, a shocked smile on her face.

“Dude, say yes!” Beca grinned as she put a hand on her shoulder, “This is huge!”

“C’mon Chlo, you’d be great at it!” Benji encouraged her, hand on her other shoulder.

Chloe looked from Beca to Benji to Andy, biting her lip a little as she grinned, “Yeah. Okay, I’m in.”

Beca cheered loudly as she wrapped Chloe in her arms, Andy, Benji, and the whole cast all delighted that Chloe had agreed.

“This is a call for a celebration!” Andy grinned, “Drinks at the bar across the street?”

“Oh, Beca doesn’t drink.” Chloe turned to her girlfriend, a worried look on her face.

“But you do. And that’s okay. Especially tonight. Let’s go and celebrate your job, I can have a few mocktails, it’ll be great.”

“Are you sure?” Chloe asked.

“Certain.” Beca nodded as Andy beamed.

“Well that’s settled then! To the bar!” He leaned in to Beca as they walked out of the theatre, “Don’t worry about the alcohol thing, between you and me this is the best bar for non-alcoholic cocktails.” He winked at Beca as she nodded gratefully, fingers intertwined with Chloe’s.

They celebrated long into the night for Chloe’s new job. It was three am before they came back to the apartment, Chloe a little tipsy as she pulled Beca close, a wide grin on her lips as she shut their apartment door with her foot.

“God I love you Beca Mitchell.” She grinned as Beca chuckled, tucking a lock of hair behind Chloe’s ear.

“I love you too Chlo. I’m so proud of you.” Beca smiled softly.

“I’m happy Beca. For the first time in way too long I’m actually happy.” Chloe rested her forehead against Beca’s as she sighed contentedly.

“Me too…” Beca whispered, hands resting on the back of Chloe’s neck as she looked into her sparkling blue eyes, a proud smile on her face, “I’m so happy with you Chlo. Happier than I thought I’d ever be.”

“Can I kiss you? Chloe asked, “I’ve had a few drinks so I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, but you say such lovely things that make we wanna kiss you.”

Beca grinned as she lent in and kissed Chloe, pulling her close. Chloe grinned against her lips as she hummed slightly. They broke apart slowly, stupid grins on their faces as they stood in each other’s arms for a moment.

“I’m okay.” Beca answered the question before Chloe could ask it again, “I promise.”

“Let’s go to bed.” Chloe sighed happily, “I wanna cuddle you close as I try and drift off. I think I’m too excited…”

“You can cuddle me whenever you like Beale.” Beca chuckled.

 The next day, Chloe arrived home from a therapy session with a bag of Greek takeout in her hand as she unlocked the door of her apartment, knowing that Beca was home already.

“Hey, I stopped by that Greek place you love on the way ho-” Chloe stopped in her tracks as she walked into her home, a soft frown on her face. Beca was lay face down on the bed, naked from the waist up, Stacie straddling her as she moved her hands skilfully up and down the brunette’s back.

“Um… what is happening?” She frowned as Beca lifted her head, a blush spreading across her cheeks.

“My back.” Beca started as Stacie paused what she was doing, “It’s been really bad the last week or so. Especially at the base of my back, y’know where the shrapnel is?”

“Oh sweetie why didn’t you say anything?” Chloe’s frown deepened as she went and set the dinner on the table.

“I didn’t want you to worry… and I didn’t want you to feel pressured into doing anything you weren’t ready for.” Beca bit her lip as she looked away, “Stacie offered, she was always the Bella physio…”

Stacie smiled as she carefully got up from the bed, wiping her hands on a towel to get rid of the excess oil, “Sorry Chloe, I didn’t mean for you to come home and get a shook.”

“No, it’s fine.” Chloe shook her head, “Beca was in pain, you were helping her out.” Her mouth was dry as she tried not to let her eyes wander over Beca’s exposed top half. She knew that she was allowed to, Beca was her girlfriend after all, but the thought of letting herself go there made her heart pound and her palms sweat. She hated that she still felt this way, but she had noticed (in fact she’d just had a conversation with her therapist about it) that the fear of allowing herself to be that vulnerable, for want of a better word, was less intense.

“You want me to leave you guys to it?” Stacie asked, not wanting to make things awkward or uncomfortable for either of them.

“No.” Chloe could feel her chest tighten a little, but she knew what she wanted, despite the lies her brain was telling her, “Will you… will you teach how to do that?”

Beca felt her breath catch in her throat as Stacie looked a little taken aback, “Chloe, you don’t have to…” Beca started.

“I know.” Chloe smiled softly, “But I want to, especially if it helps you.”

“Alright then.” Stacie smiled softly, deciding not to make a big deal of it, “Come sit next to Beca on the bed.” The tall brunette grabbed the bottle of oil as she straddled Beca again, smiling at Chloe.

Chloe sat next to Beca, her eyes fixed on Stacie’s hands, swallowing hard as her heart pounded in her ears. Stacie gently squeezed a small amount of the lavender oil into the middle of Beca’s back.

“Do you want to watch me do it, or do you want me to use your hands to show you what to do?” Stacie asked, not wanting to push Chloe too far or too fast.

“Can I watch? For now?” Chloe asked, her voice quiet as Stacie smiled and nodded.

She began to work out a knot in the middle of Beca’s back, applying pressure with her fingers as she worked out the tension that Beca was carrying. Chloe watched intently as Beca groaned softly, enjoying the feeling of the tension leaving her back, to fixated on the relief that she felt as the pain began to dissipate to think too hard about the fact that this was a huge step for Chloe. They carried on in silence for ten minutes, Chloe watching as she focused on the way that Stacie’s hands moved, Beca relaxing a little as she the tension eased in her back and in the apartment.

“Can I try?” Chloe’s voice was barely above a whisper as she looked to Stacie, half asking her, half asking Beca.

“Are you okay with that Beca?” Stacie asked.

“Yeah.” Beca nodded, turning her head a little so she could look at Chloe, “I trust you Chlo.”

Chloe smiled nervously at Beca before shifting her position on the bed. She wasn’t ready to straddle Beca, not yet, but if she turned herself in the right way she could reach the lower portion of Beca’s back without having to tie herself in knots. Taking a deep breath, her hands shaking ever so slightly as she took the bottle of oil from Stacie and squeezed a little into her hand. She paused for a moment, before gently putting her hands on Beca’s back. Chloe felt like there was electricity coursing through her as she started to rub small circles on the tight part of Beca’s back.

“Like… like this?” Chloe asked looking to Stacie.

“Ask Beca.” Stacie smiled softly.

“Becs? Is this okay?” Chloe whispered.

“It’s good.” Beca mumbled, feeling like her skin was on fire under Chloe’s touch in all the best ways, “But you can apply a little more pressure, get into the deep tissue a little?”

“Okay.” Chloe smiled softly, pressing a little harder as she worked her fingers into the knot, frowning a little in concentration, “How’s that?”

“Mmm…” Beca hummed, “That’s perfect…”

Chloe smiled proudly as she continued to move her hands in the way that she’d Stacie do a few minutes ago. She continued to move her hands down Beca’s back, concentrating so hard that she missed Beca saying:

“Oh Chloe, be careful there, it- ow!” Beca winced as Chloe pressed a little too hard where the shrapnel had settled in her back.

“Oh shit, I’m sorry, what did I do?!” Chloe pulled back horrified as Beca’s cry of pain cut through her concentration.

“That’s where the shrapnel is.” Beca smiled sheepishly as she turned her head to look at Chloe, “It just hurts a little if you press too hard…”

“I’m really sorry…” Chloe shook her head.

“Hey, it’s okay!” Beca grabbed the towel that had been left on the floor near her head and draped it over her front so she could turn over and take Chloe’s hand, “I’m okay, it’s just a twinge. You’re doing a really great job.”

“Yeah?” Chloe asked shyly.

“Yeah.” Beca nodded, tucking a lock of Chloe’s hair behind her ear.

“Roll over so I can finish?” Chloe blushed a little as she bit her lip, shy and nervous, but more comfortable than she thought she’d be.

“Okay.” Beca grinned, quickly rolling over as Chloe resumed the massage, less nervous this time as she avoided the area that had caused Beca pain the last time.

Stacie had gotten off the bed without either of them noticing, a soft smile on her face as she watched the couple deal with an issue and move past it. They had come such a long way in the last four months, and watching them interact like this almost made all of the awfulness that had come before it worth it. She picked up her bag, deciding to slip out quietly and leave them to it. She’d text them later to let them know that she’d slipped out.

It was half an hour later when Chloe had finished, the knots removed from Beca’s back as the brunette sighed happily.

“Oh that is so much better…” Beca groaned, “Who knew being a music producer took such a toll on your back?”

Chloe chuckled as she lay on her back next to Beca, a soft smile on her face as she looked into Beca’s bluey-grey eyes, “You work so hard, it’s no wonder you’re back hurts.”

“It’s exactly a physically taxing job is though is it?” Beca chuckled, “How was therapy today?” She intertwined her fingers with Chloe’s as she returned the smile.

“Good. Weirdly, I was talking about how the idea of us didn’t freak me out as much… the more intimate side of it I mean.” Chloe shifted on the bed so that her forehead was resting on Beca’s bare shoulder.

“Really?” Beca asked, rolling onto her back, a towel covering her top half as Chloe settled onto her shoulder again, “That’s huge Chlo.”

Chloe blushed a little, not lifting her head from Beca’s shoulder, “I’m not saying I’m ready to do anything, I just… it doesn’t frighten me like it used to.”

“That’s okay.” Beca gently stroked her fingers down Chloe’s arm, a soft smile on her lips, “There is absolutely no rush, we have the rest of our lives for that.”

“You’re so patient with me.” Chloe finally lifted her head to look at Beca, needing to see the look of love in her eyes in order to ground herself, “I know it can’t be easy, waiting for me to stop being such a mess-”

“Stop right there.” Beca gently but firmly interrupted Chloe, “You are allowed to take your time, to work through whatever you need to in order to get healthy, and then we can worry about everything else.”

“I want to Beca… I want us to take that next step, but right now it’s just too much for me…” Chloe sighed, “And I hate that. I hate that it’s become this thing.”

“I know.” Beca continued to stroke Chloe’s arm, her eyes still on hers,  “But it’s okay. You’re amazing Chloe, you’ve come so far. You just take your time, I’ll always be here, and I’m in no rush to do anything. I’m just happy to have you by my side.”

“I love you.” Chloe whispered, moving as close to Beca as she could.

“I love you too.” Beca smiled softly, a happy sigh slipping through her lips, “Let me go put a top on and then we can cuddle if you want?”

“I always want to.” Chloe grinned.

Over the next few weeks, Beca noticed a change in her girlfriend’s behaviour; a positive one. It started off small, Chloe wandering out of the bathroom half dressed, a large hoodie on but putting her pants on after she’d pulled them from the chest of drawers next to the bed. The first time it happened, Beca assumed she’d simply forgotten to bring her pants to the bathroom (something the brunette had done herself on more than one occasion), but it happened again, and again, a few days apart. The brunette said nothing, but secretly she couldn’t help feeling a tingle of pride as she watched Chloe slowly get more and more comfortable. Then, just as Beca had adjusted to the new dynamic, Chloe had left the bathroom in her underwear, the brunette thankful that Chloe hadn’t seen her jaw drop as she did. The pounding in her chest was not new to Beca, but the way that seeing Chloe in her underwear made her feel was. She pushed it down, meaning what she’d said to Chloe; she was in no rush, she’d wait as long as it took. But as she watched Chloe bend over to pull something out of the bottom drawer, she felt a pang of guilt that she was even feeling like this when she knew Chloe wasn’t in the same place.

After three weeks of the redhead slowly becoming more comfortable, Chloe exited the bathroom with a happy sigh as she enjoyed how the warm water had eased the aches out of her weary muscles. She'd spent the day running through the choreography for a production of Six which had left her sore but satisfied. As she headed for the dresser with her sweats in, she could feel Beca's eyes on her, a soft smile on her lip as she wandered past her in nothing but a towel.

Beca had been lounging on the bed, flipping through different apps on her phone when Chloe walked out in her towel. The sight made her shift on the bed as she took in the visible parts of Chloe while forcing her mind off of the parts that weren’t, “H-hey.”

"Hey yourself." Chloe grinned as she perched on the edge of their bed, opening the draw, "You okay there?" Yes, she’d been doing this for predominately for her, her therapist suggesting that she should do it in order to see how she felt being more vulnerable. But part of her had enjoyed the way that Beca looked at her as she walked past her in fewer and fewer clothes.

Beca pressed her lips together as a few freckles on Chloe’s mid back became visible. “I am suddenly a little warm. I think the heater might be acting up again.” She lied badly, shifting on the bed again but trying not to be too obvious.

Chloe chuckled as she pulled a pair of sweats from the door, grabbing a tank top as well. The heater had always been a source of issue from the second they’d moved in, but she knew that it wasn’t what was causing the issue right now. She appreciated Beca for trying not to push anything.

"Yeah, that heater has been a problem lately..." She looked over her shoulder at Beca, grin widening as she saw the blush on her cheeks, "We should call someone about that."

Beca set her phone on the nightstand folding her hands in her lap as she turned her eyes from Chloe to allow her to change without being watched.

“So I was thinking about something today...” She played with her fingers to not shift again. “And I was thinking if you were in the right headspace we could maybe talk about relationship stuff. Like intimate stuff.” Beca bit her lip, looking at her hands, regretting the words the second they were out of their mouth, “But only if you want to, y’know cos you said it scared you less now, but it’s okay if you’re not too.”  

Chloe took a deep breath. She knew this conversation had been on the horizon, but that didn't stop her heart pounding in her chest. Turning to Beca she nodded, a soft smile on her face.

"I'm okay. But can I change first?"

“You don’t want to talk about this in a towel holding clothing?” Beca said in a faux shocked tone, giving Chloe a bright grin to try and put her at ease.

Chloe smiled just a little, rolling her eyes as she stood up, noting the way that Beca had turned around so that she could change semi-privately and feeling her heart swell a little. She would never be able to express how grateful she had been for Beca's patience in the last five months.

"Alright." She smiled warmly as she sat down on the bed next to Beca, "I'm ready."

Beca reached out, her hand between them with the palm side facing up. She didn’t want to touch Chloe without her permission but she did want to have a connection while they laid themselves emotionally naked in front of the other. She would let Chloe decide when that happened.

“I love you. And I love the kisses we do share, the space we take up next to each other. I want you to know that okay? This isn’t a talk I want to have because I’m not happy with what we already have.” Beca rambled a little, feeling her heart pound.

Chloe smiled softly as she took Beca's hand in hers. There was nothing that made her feel stronger and safer than having Beca hold her, even if it was just her hand she was holding.

"I love you too, and I'm really glad that you’re happy. I am too, and I know how patient you've been with me."

“Can I ask a very personal question?” Beca didn’t want to overstep but she did wonder something.

"Of course." Chloe could feel her heart pounding as the possibilities swirled in her head, but she knew that Beca was about the only person in the world she could be totally honest with.

“So, before last year and...” Beca made a vague waving motion with her hand “... all that stuff happened, sometimes when I was alone and in the mood I would... you know... let my hand do some traveling south. Do you do that? Have you ever?”

Chloe felt a small blush spread across her cheeks but that didn't stop a small smile crossing her lips. It was a very Beca question, with very Beca phrasing, and she appreciated how normal this conversation felt, regardless of the low simmering anxiety in her chest, "Not really? I was so busy throwing myself into the Bellas, into life after Barden, into not thinking about what happened that it never really crossed my mind... and even the idea of it, I just... didn't want to. Does that make me weird?"

Chloe winced a little as she run a hand through her hair. She never really talked about it before, but something about it had always made her feel... odd. Uncomfortable even. But talking about it with Beca was a little easier than she thought it would be.

“No, it doesn’t make you weird.” Beca brought their joined hands to her lips to press a kiss. “I know your experiences haven’t been positive ones. I didn’t know if you ever learned what you liked by trying it out yourself, that’s all I was trying to get at.”

Chloe smiled widely as she gently rubbed her thumb over Beca's knuckles. "I didn't feel like I needed to..." She whispered, "Before I met you I never thought anyone could love me, and then you turned all that on its head. Maybe I should have thought about, but I just didn't."

“When we do kiss or when we do lay close together and cuddle, do you think about doing more or is this where you are comfortable being?” Beca asked, needing to know if Chloe was ready for more at all.

Chloe paused for a moment, biting her lip a little, "I do want more..." She mumbled, barely audible as she looked at her hands, "For the first time in my life I've found myself wanting that intimacy with someone. I just... I'm worried. Worried that I'm going to mess it up, that I'm going to freak out and ruin it."

“Will you lay down with me?” Beca asked. “We don’t have to touch more than we are now. But will you lay down while we talk?”

Chloe nodded, lying next to Beca, fingers intertwined. She could feel her heart pounding a little as they lay there for a moment in silence, simply watching the way that Beca's chest rose and fell as she looked at her in the way that made her feel like she was invincible. Lying next to Beca was her favourite place to be, especially when she was feeling this vulnerable. But it wasn’t as terrifying as she was expecting it to be.

“When we sing together, with the Bellas or in the kitchen, what happens when one of us messes up or does something different?” Beca asked, trying to use music to explain this. Because music was the thing they shared from the first time they met and the part of their lives that had always seen them through.

Chloe couldn't help the light laugh that left her lips. Trust Beca to bring it back to music. Not that she minded that, it was one of the many things she loved about her.

"We talk about. Re-adjust the set where we need to. Whatever it takes to make it perfect." Chloe smiled softly.

“You and I have been working off of each other for a decade, Chlo. I know what it looks like when you want to freestyle, I know how it looks when you need to talk, I know what it looks like when you want to keep going to try and see where it might go even if it’s not perfect.” Beca shifted a little closer. “I think touching each other, making love with each other will be like that. I hope it will be like that at least.”

Chloe bit her lip as she smiled at Beca, reaching up to run a hand through Beca's brunette locks, "I think so too... I trust you Beca. More than I trust anyone, even Aubrey. I trust you to be close to me and not hurt me, to know my limits, to respect them in a way no-one ever has."

Beca almost purred at the way that Chloe’s words and the way her hand moved through her hair felt. There was something a little intoxicating - in a way alcohol never could be so pure - that made Beca weak. “Sometimes when we lay in this bed it’s all I can do not to slide my hand under your top and feel your skin under my hand. I would never do it without your consent and before tonight I couldn’t ask. But maybe now I can?”

Chloe nodded, taking Beca’s hand and guiding it to her stomach, feeling her skin tingle as Beca's fingers slid under her vest top, keeping her other hand in Beca's hair as she hummed softly.

"Can I um... can I do the same?" She asked, her mouth dry, still a little anxious, but seeing the love in Beca's eyes soothed her in a way that she had never been.

“Yes.” Beca whispered as her fingers spread out over Chloe’s ribs. She closed her eyes for a moment as the heat of Chloe’s skin seemed to warm her up like she was standing in front of a large bonfire.

“Should we have a safe word or something? Just like in case we need to pause but we don’t want to freak the other out by saying no?’ Beca opened her eyes, bottom lip between her teeth.

"I like that idea." Chloe mumbled as she gently traced her fingers down Beca's stomach, "How about... Titanium?" She grinned a little, an eyebrow raised, knowing that however dumb it sounded, it meant the same thing to Beca as it did to her.

Beca felt herself react to Chloe’s fingers in a way that felt like a current was passing through her skin.

“Cheeky, Miss Beale, very cheeky.” Beca shifted a bit closer as the tips of her fingers brushed the underside of Chloe’s breast.

Chloe gasped a little as she felt Beca's fingers where no-one else had ever been. It was a little odd, but not in a bad way. Not at all in a bad way. She traced her fingers higher up Beca's waist, gently tracing the lace of her bra, leaning in to press a kiss to Beca's lips, hotter and a little harder than she ever had before.

"Is this okay?" She asked, silently begging Beca not to say no.

Beca felt her breathing come a bit quicker now that she had a taste of the desire flowing through the kiss. She leaned in for another kiss instead of answering as her fingers stroked at Chloe’s breast.

Chloe could feel her breath catch in her throat. They had been here once before, almost two years ago, and the sensation of Beca's fingers on her breast had caused her to spiral into a panic attack. But now, as she felt the gentle way in which Beca was tracing her fingers along her what she felt wasn't fear. It was arousal, a sort of heat that flushed her cheeks and her chest as she felt the soft touch of the woman she loved.

"I'm okay." She managed to mumble, "If you want to be firmer than that I'm okay." She traced the outline of Beca's breast with her fingers, not yet quite daring to push the lace of her bra away and feel Beca's exposed breast under her fingertips.

“Yeah? I can work with okay but I’m shooting a little higher than that.” Beca shifted to press her calf against Chloe’s to bring a little more of them into contact.

She was nervous as she palmed Chloe’s breast. She had never really done any of this - at least sober or that she could remember - so her hand fumbled just a little before it fell into place. But once she felt Chloe’s nipple hardening against her palm she let out a whimper of pleasure.

“You can touch me, Chloe. As much as you’re ready for, alright?”

Chloe let out a soft moan of pleasure, a noise that she never thought she'd make in a scenario like this, as Beca cupped her breast. She hesitated for just a second before slipping her fingers under the underwire of Beca's bra, whimpering a little herself as she felt Beca's nipple harden when her thumb teased it gently. She brushed her lips against Beca's, their calves flush as she whispered into her mouth.

"Would it be okay if you took off your t-shirt?" She asked, shy and nervous as she wanted to see what had been under the towel when she had massaged her back a month ago.

Beca sat up and ditched her shirt before taking a moment before tossing her bra on top of it on the floor. She didn’t like the feeling of her bra being pushed up so this was a win for her and the way Chloe’s eyes widened and brightened made her feel like it was a win for Chloe too.

“How’s that?” She asked, her voice slightly huskier as she laid back down.

Chloe bit her lip a little as her eyes trailed over Beca's breasts, her fingers reaching out to trace them as she committed them to memory. They were a little different to how she remembered them from Beca's freshman year, but by god they were still perfect.

"Beautiful..." she whispered as she cupped the left, mirroring the way Beca had been touching her, hoping it would bring her the same feeling of wanting and arousal as she was feeling. Her eyes couldn't help flickering down to the long scar that ran down Beca's middle all the way to the top of her pants line. Chloe didn't think she'd ever seen it before,  a stark reminder of everything that had been, but as she reached out to trace it with her free hand she felt a sense of hope. It was like a line in the sand, a do-over.

"Does it ever hurt?" She found herself asking.

Beca had to fight her brain to be able to think so she could answer the question when Chloe was touching her like she was. The way that it felt, one hand on her breast and the other on her scar, made her feel like she would never feel pain again. The idea of pain like a dream that was fading away from her.

“Sometimes.” She admitted when her brain caught back up to answer the question. “When I twist just the right way or when I sit for too long without enough support in my back. But it’s less sharp now, more dull when I feel pain at all.”

Chloe licked her dry lips as she looked into Beca's eyes, hating the idea that Beca felt any pain at all anymore. She lifted (a little reluctantly) Beca's hand from her breast and placed it on the side of her face, using Beca's thumb to trace the scar on her forehead.

"Sometimes, when it's really cold or I've lay on my pillow corner a weird way, I feel it throb... like this little reminder I'll never be the same person I was before..." She whispered, "But then I remember that I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to be this person, in bed with you touching me like this, making me feel like this..."

“The woman in bed with me? This Chloe Beale who smiles a little easier and who has bright eyes more often than not? This woman that you’ve worked so hard to be is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.” Beca leaned forward as her thumb traced the scar, her breasts against Chloe’s with only Chloe’s shirt between them.

“I’ve loved you a long time, Chlo. But this healthy you is even more amazing. I am kind of in awe of you.”

Chloe just grinned, leaning in to press a kiss to Beca's lips, tracing her tongue along her bottom lip as she deepened it, a hand on Beca's hip as she pulled her closer.

"I'm going to take of my top, is that okay?" She asked as she pulled away, breathing a little heavily, wanting the feeling of Beca's skin against her own.

Beca gave a bashful grin and felt her body reacting to the question. “Chloe never, and I mean this in the most respectful way I can say it, ever question if I want to see your boobs. They are just about my favourite things on the face of this earth that I can’t make music on and I’m still hoping on hope one day we can make mixing tables small enough to fit one there.” She teased to try and make the moment less stressful.

Chloe giggled a little as she sat up just long enough to pull her top off, gasping a little as skin touched skin, "I'm sure you could find a way to make music on them if you tried." She grinned playfully as she kissed Beca again, on hand on her hip, the other running through her hair.

Laying with their breasts pressed together, Chloe’s hands on her hip and in her hair, make Beca feel freer than she had since before Beca could remember. She leaned in and kissed Chloe as her hand moved to the back of Chloe’s neck, playing with the baby hairs there and enjoying the feeling of having this joyful moment. This was further than she thought they would ever get, and there was still a part of her that didn’t quite believe they were here.

“Still doing okay?” She whispered, her voice huskier still.

"Yeah." Chloe could feel her chest flush a deeper shade of red as she heard the huskiness in Beca's voice, "Better than I ever thought I could be." She admitted as she trailed her fingertips along Beca's ribcage, the other still tangled in her hair.

"Are you okay?"

Beca kissed her before answering. “I’m incredibly turned on right now. Like after we’re done here I might need a cold shower.”

Chloe felt her breath hitch in her throat as she let her hand fall from Beca's hair, fingers trailing down her side as she bit her lip, not wanting to push Beca, but equally wanting to push to see if she was as ready as she thought she was. Because right now, her mind was only on one thing, one thing that she was sure she would never want, but lay here next to Beca, with Beca’s hands on her, and her hands on Beca, she felt safer and more loved than she had ever done.

"What if I didn't want you to need that shower? If I was ready to try and go further than this?" She kissed her again, softer this time but with as much passion as before.

Beca’s heart sped up as she took in Chloe’s words. She wanted that, she wanted it more than she could put into words so instead of trying she took a deep breath and pulled off the rest of her clothes so she was naked in front of Chloe.

“Is that enough of an answer?” She asked as she felt her whole body blush at her own boldness.

Chloe let out a soft whimper as her eyes ran up and down Beca's now nude form. She'd been around enough, danced with her enough, slept next to her enough, to know that she had an incredible body, but this? This was way better then she could have ever imagined in her wildest dreams.

"Wow..." Was all she managed to say as she traced her hand down Beca's thigh.

“We um, might want to swap sides of the bed?” Beca bushed a little bit. “So you’re on your left side and I’m on my right? I’m left handed and you’re right handed and having our dominate hand free might be a good idea right?” She rambled a little bit as she tried to push away her nerves at being bake ass naked.

Chloe managed to pull her brain into focus as she smiled, "You're cute when you ramble." She mumbled, kissing her softly, "Swapping seems like a good idea."

Beca shifted on top of Chloe without thinking about it to get to the other side of the bed. It made sense until she was there and felt Chloe freezing under her. She scrambled off of her, standing at the side of the bed and feeling like she just managed to fuck everything up with a second of not thinking. Chloe sat bolt upright, breathing hard as she closed her eyes tight shut for a second, trying to ease the panic in her chest as she gripped the bedding next to her tight in her hand. It was a moment of tense silence before she reached for Beca's hand her eyes still closed.

"It's okay. You didn't mean to. I'm okay."

“I was just trying to get to the other side of the bed. I didn’t think. I should have thought.” Beca held tight to her hand, as she kept on her feet for the moment.

Seeing Chloe breathing harder, seeing her eyes tightly shut, it broke her heart a little bit to know she caused this.

"I know." Chloe whispered, getting her breathing under control as she opened her eyes and looked up at Beca, "It's okay baby, I'm okay."

She clumsily moved so she was sat in front of Beca, letting her hand rest on the side of the brunette's neck as she gently pulled her into a soft kiss, "Come get back into bed?" Chloe asked as she smiled softly, "Just give me a sec to move over and then lay next to me again?"

Beca waited for Chloe to laid back down before joining her in bed. She kept a little space between them before reached out for Chloe’s hand as the pair of them laid together again.

“I love you.” She whispered for lack of something more eloquent to say.

"I love you too. So much." Chloe whispered back, trailing her fingers up Beca's arm, not wanting to push Beca too far, too quickly, "I really am okay." She tried to reassure her girlfriend, "I promise I am."

Beca forced herself to believe Chloe, pushing out her own hang-ups of her carelessness.

“I believe you.” She promised as she leaned forward to press a soft kiss to Chloe’s lips. “And baby, I’m proud of you for how you handled that. Even if you shouldn’t have had to.”

Chloe smiled as she ran a hand through Beca's hair again, "Thank you... I didn't think I would handle it that well if I'm honest." She blushed a little at the admission, "I thought I'd lose it again, but I guess this just solidifies the idea that I'm ready for this. That I’m ready for us, in every way." She moved herself closer to Beca, fingers trailing along the brunette's ribs.

"That is if you still are? There's no pressure." She pressed a soft kiss to her lips.

Beca took Chloe’s hand, pressing soft kisses to each pad of her fingers before bringing Chloe’s hand down between her thighs.

“If this doesn’t tell you I’m ready, I am not sure what else to do other than to get card stock and mail you an invite.” Beca held Chloe’s hand loosely to allow her to pull it back if she needed.

Chloe gasped a little as she pushed her hand further between Beca's thighs, moving as close as she could to the brunette as she cautiously slid two of her fingers inside her, going by instinct, grinning a little as she felt how damp she was. Despite her lack of experience, Chloe knew it was a good sign.

"How does that feel?" She asked as she moved her fingers back and forth.

Beca’s eyes closed as she felt Chloe’s touching her like she had thought about for years. The way she was moving her fingers made Beca rock her hips out of sheer instinct.

‘Good, very good, great even.” Beca leaned in to kiss over Chloe’s still bare breasts. She gasped at the feeling of Chloe’s thumb sliding over her clit. She felt the build-up in her belly that hadn’t been there in the last year.

Chloe moaned a little as she felt Beca's lips against her breasts, rubbing her thumb and moving her fingers at the same pace as Beca's hips. Watching Beca unravel like this under her fingertips was far more of a turn on than she could ever have imagined it would be.

"Tell me how it feels?" She asked, biting her lip a little, "Please? Tell me how it feels to have you touch me like this, to be here in bed like this."

Beca pulled her lips away from Chloe’s breasts enough to be able to speak while still keeping her head close to her chest.

“It feels like a dream come true. Like it’s all worth it. Like we’ve won. God, we won after all the shit we were put through, after all the hell we walked though. It feels so good.” She brought her left up to cup Chloe’s cheek, her thumb tracing Chloe’s lips. “Like my birthday and Christmas all wrapped up in one. Like a celebration.” Her mind was a bit foggy, a bit scattered so she hoped she was making sense.

Chloe moved her hand back and forth, resting her head on top of Beca's as she tangled her free hand into her hair, kissing the top of her head as they rocked in sync, "We're finally here..." She whispered into her hair, "We're here, in bed together, we overcame everything that was thrown at us and we're here at last. I love you so much Becs."

The knot in her belly tightened and tightened and tightened. She had brought herself here before but she had never felt what happened next. She always felt a slow dissipation of that tightness and never the rapid unravelling that was currently making her body freeze before she felt boneless.

“Oh.” She breathed out, suddenly panting as she shook just a bit. “That’s why Stacie always said sex was so good. Ok, yeah, I get it now.”

Chloe couldn't help but laugh a little as she felt Beca's body shake against hers, the brunette going limp as Chloe gently slid her hand out from between her thighs, "That good huh?" She asked as she lay next to her, lifting her fingers to her lips, partly out of arousal, partly out of pure curiosity.

The urge to kiss Chloe as Beca watched her lick her fingers was nearly overwhelming. She waited until Chloe moved her hand back from her mouth before kissing her hungrily.

“Can I touch you?” She felt a little silly begging after what Chloe just did but her need to please her girlfriend was all she could think about right now.

"God yes." Chloe all but whimpered, "I want... I want to feel like you just did." She reached down to quickly and desperately tug off her own pants kicking them off a little ungracefully as she pressed herself close to Beca.

Beca started just under Chloe’s breasts, trailing her fingertips down. She rested her forehead against Chloe’s as her left hand started to explore.

“You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen, Chloe. Do you know that? How beautiful you are? How much I love you? How much you mean to me? Do you have any idea how big your name is written on my heart?” She spoke to assure Chloe that it was here, that this was safe, that the two of them were safe together.

As her fingers explored she used one and then two to slide in and out as she used a few flicks of her wrist to test out what she was doing.

Chloe moaned softly as she felt Beca's fingers slip inside her, biting her lip a little as she pressed her forehead a little harder against Beca's.

"God I love you." She mumbled, her brain starting to fog a little, "You're so good at this Becs, you make me feel so safe and turned on at the same time. You're amazing." Her hips began to rock against Beca's hand, a knot forming in her stomach. This was so far away from any experience she'd ever had, so soft and tender, so full of love and care, Chloe still couldn't quite believe she deserved to be treated like this, but good god was she never going to admit that anymore.

Beca kept moving her fingers, her thumb giving a little press against Chloe’s clit as she did. She wanted to make Chloe feel wonderful, boneless, like she was floating on a cloud. She deserved a moment of bliss after all the hell in her life.

“I always want you to feel that way, Chlo. Safe and loved and wanted. Because I want you. I want you every day in every way I can have you.” She moved her hand in time with Chloe rocking against her, picking the pace up as she felt Chloe’s reactions. “Let go for me, Chloe. Just let go. You’re safe, I’ll catch you. Always.”

Chloe whimpered a little as she felt Beca's thumb move across her clit, feeling the knot grow and tighten inside her. She felt her hands take on a mind of their own as they snaked into Beca's hair, pulling her as close as possible as she felt as though she was teetering on a knife edge, "I trust you." She whispered, "You're mine, and I trust you. No-one has ever made me feel like this Beca. No-one."

Beca whimpered at how much this moment meant to her. There was nothing at all she wanted more than to bring Chloe pleasure and to make her feel loved.

“I love, I love you so much.” Beca whispered as her thumb kept stroking against Chloe.

The knot in her stomach squeezed tight as Chloe moaned again, all thoughts of anything entirely dispelled as she soaked in this feeling. The feeling of Beca inside her, the wave of pleasure crashing down as a result of her oh so talented fingers. She felt her body freeze, but instead of the paralysing fear she was used to, she felt a warm buzz, shaking as she felt her head slip from its place against Beca's and onto her shoulder. Her breathing was heavy, not from anxiety but from the aftermath of a pleasure she'd never felt.

Pulling Beca close, she nuzzled into the side of her neck. "Thank you." She finally managed to mumble as she regained the power of speech.

Beca wrapped her arms around Chloe and just held her close. “We made love, baby. And it was so good. So good.” She whispered, kissing all over Chloe’s face with a laugh that she couldn’t hold back. “You and me, without any major panic or stress and only one kinda panic moment that I won’t do again. We did it.”

Chloe bit her lip, a wide grin on her face, giggling as Beca’s kisses fluttered across her face. She slipped her arms around Beca’s waist, pulling her close, “We did didn’t we? It was amazing, and gentle, and so full of love… I never realised it could be like that.” She whispered, a look of soft vulnerability in her eyes.

“It can. It always will be, because I love you Chloe Beale, you are the single most important person in my life and I am going to spend everyday of our lives showing you just how much you mean to me, how amazed I am by you at any given moment.” Beca could feel tears begin to slip down her cheeks as she looked into Chloe’s eyes, tucking a lock of her sex tussled hair behind her ear.

“I love you too.” Chloe grinned, tears in her own eyes as she gently kissed the tear tracks on Beca’s cheeks, “You have been the most important person in my life from the second we sang in the shower in your freshman year. You’re my hero, the person I know I can be myself with no matter what. You’re my safe place.”

“I always want to be your safe space Chlo. Right here, in my arms, in our bed, no-one can ever hurt you again. I promise you that.” Beca vowed, forehead resting against Chloe’s.

“The same goes for you Becs.” Chloe ran a hand through Beca’s hair, “You need a safe place too, somewhere you can escape from the world. I’m always going to have that for you, for as long as you want it.”

Beca said nothing, simply leaned in and kissed her, deeply and passionately, with all the love she could possibly muster in a single moment. Chloe grinned against her lips, pulling her as close as physically possible, never wanting her to let Beca go again.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Chapter Text

A week on from their first time together, and they were sat in the airport with Aubrey, Stacie, Bella, Amy, and Benji. Travelling together had seemed like a good idea at the time, but after spending an hour at airport security trying to explain the Beca wasn't trying to smuggle anything onto the plane but had in fact got some shrapnel lodged in her back (because apparently her medical id card simply wasn't proof enough) had made everyone but Chloe regret that decision. They were heading to Atlanta for Emily's graduation, all of them bursting with pride for the youngest Bella who was graduating with honours.

"I cannot believe that it took us an hour to do that!" Stacie groaned as she sank into a chair at the airport.

"Tell me about it." Beca sighed, hand in Chloe's as she sat next to her, "Every time we fly I go through the same thing, it's ridiculous!"

"Maybe we should've flown separately…" Amy rolled her eyes, dropping her carry-on unceremoniously next to the seated Bellas, purse in hand, "I'm gonna grab a coffee, I had to get up at six am because someone insisted that we get to the airport four hours before our flight!" She glared at Aubrey who raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, it's a good job I did with ol' Ironside over there!" Aubrey gestured at Beca with her thumb as the brunette scoffed.

"I was shot, you have to be nice to me!" Beca pouted as Chloe laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

"So was I, but I let it go with grace!" Aubrey rolled her eyes, a smirk on her lips as she gently bounced Bella on her knee.

"Chloeee…" Beca whined, turning to her girlfriend who just shook her head.

"You know I love you Becs, but after two years you can't really use the 'I got shot' excuse anymore…" Chloe giggled as Beca frowned grumpily, sighing dramatically.

"Well what's the point in being shot then?!" Beca sulked, arms folded across her chest in a huff as Chloe laughed, kissing her cheek.

"It makes your girlfriend think you're a very hot badass…" Chloe mumbled in her ear, Beca's cheeks tingling red as she grinned like an idiot.

"I'm gonna go grab a coffee for me and Stace, you wanna come with me Chloe?" Aubrey smiled warmly, passing Bella to Stacie and kissing her head.

"Sure! Coffee Becs?" Chloe asked.

"God yes…" Beca sighed, Chloe kissing her as she stood up to join Aubrey.

"What about you Benji, coffee?" Chloe offered, a warm smile on her face as Benji nodded gratefully, the two friends heading in the same direction Amy had. Once they had ordered the hot drinks, Aubrey and Chloe stood to one side waiting, Amy having wandered off to go and look around the duty free.

"So." Aubrey grinned as she turned to Chloe, her voice low so that their conversation was not overheard by the other people in the airport, "You guys took a huge step huh?"

"What?!" Chloe blushed furiously, going the same shade as her hair as Aubrey raised an eyebrow, "How did you- how?!"

"Honey, I have been your friend for over a decade now, I know you. And it's written all over your face, the way you're all over each other…" Aubrey nudged Chloe with her arm, as the redhead continued to blush furiously.

"I- we- shut up." Chloe mumbled, unable to keep the stupid grin of her face despite her embarrassment.

"Chloe, in all seriousness, this is huge. I'm so proud of you, of both of you." Aubrey smiled warmly, taking hers and Stacie's coffee as their order was called, Chloe picking up a holder of three with the rest in, still blushing deeply as she followed Aubrey back to the others.

"Thanks…" Chloe whispered, grinning. It was a big step, and Chloe knew it.

"I figured it was only a matter of time after Stacie came home from massaging Beca's back." Aubrey mused, the two taking their time to walk back, "You're glowing. You both are. And honestly, after all you've been through, it's so nice to see you both happy for a change."

"I am happy." Chloe whispered, worried if she were to say it any louder she'd jinx it, "Bree this is the happiest I've ever been. Beca's… my whole world." The redhead sighed happily, "I think I'm going to spend the rest of my life with her. Scratch that, I am going to spend the rest of my life with her. I love her. I never thought I'd ever feel like this about anyone…"

Aubrey grinned broadly, gently pressing herself into Chloe's side, "Usually when people gush like that about their other half it makes me wanna barf, but for some reason when it's you? It's bearable."

Chloe just laughed as they reached their friends again, Amy still wandering around the duty free. Beca took her coffee from Chloe, passing the other to Benji who smiled gratefully, all of them sitting in a content silence for a few moments before Stacie piped up again, a soft grin on her face:

"I can't believe that Emily's actually graduating… our girl's all grown up!" She laughed gently, head resting on Aubrey's shoulder.

"God I know…" Aubrey shook her head, "It feels like just yesterday you were all at the Lodge looking for help with Worlds, and she was this tall, bubbly freshman, and now she's a college graduate?"

"If you guys are freaking out over this, how are you gonna handle Bella starting school?" Beca frowned, earning a glare from both of the young girl's parents as Stacie pulled Bella closer to her chest protectively.

"We do NOT talk about that. She will stay my baby forever and that's the end of it." Stacie pouted, kissing Bella's head.

"Silly momma." Bella giggled, squirming in her arms a little, reaching her hands towards Beca, "Aunty Beca, helppp!"

Beca laughed as she plucked her niece from Stacie's ever-tightening grip around her middle, "Don't worry Bells, Aunty Beca to the rescue!" She cried as she spun with her held just above her head, the toddler squealing in delight.

Chloe grinned as she watched Beca continue to swoop her niece around in her arms, planting soft fluttering kisses on her cheeks as she did so. Watching Beca so utterly content with life made her heart swell, and watching Beca with a kid? It warmed her in a way that she'd never felt before.

The voice over the tannoid announced that their flight was boarding, Stacie gently taking Bella from Beca as all of them, now re-joined by Amy, went to board the plane. Benji looked a little nervous as he stood next to Beca, dithering a little.

"What's up with you dude?" Beca asked, a small frown on her face.

"Nothing." Benji grinned uneasily, "I mean… it's nothing."

"Benji…" Beca started, "Come on, out with it. We're gonna be in this line a while, I'll get it out of you eventually."

"Okay fine." Benji sighed, rummaging in his carry on for a small box, fumbling with it a little as he pulled it out to show Beca, making sure that she was the only one of them that could see it, "I was thinking that I might ask her today?"

Beca gasped softly, a wide grin on her face as she saw the engagement ring in his hand. It was a simple silver, set with a small diamond, but it was stunning, "Dude…" Beca had to fight back tears for a moment, "It's so gorgeous. She's gonna to love it Benji."

"Yeah?" Benji whispered as he hurriedly put it in his bag again, a light blush on his cheeks, "You think she'll say yes?"

"In a heartbeat." Beca nodded, hastily wiping away the tear in the corner of her eye.

"What are you two whispering about?" Chloe asked, turning from her conversation with Aubrey, a soft, suspicious frown on her face.

"Nothing!" Both Benji and Beca answered a little too quickly.

"Uh-huh… that's why you've both gone beetroot?" Chloe raised an eyebrow.

"It's nothing babe, honestly." Beca grinned as she wound her arms around Chloe's waist, kissing her in an attempt to distract her. It worked as Chloe deepened the kiss, forgetting entirely what they were talking about as her brain seemed to short circuit at the way the brunette's tongue felt against hers.

"Um guys… the line's moving." Benji mumbled, trying to get their attention as they were lost in each other to no avail.

"Ladies!" Aubrey barked in a way that made them break apart like guilty teenagers, a way that only their former captain could, "You're holding up the line, come on!" There was a cheeky grin on her face as the couple blushed, fingers intertwined as they headed to board the plane.

Chloe greeted Beca's dad with a warm hug, a grin plastered on her face, "Hey Hank! Thanks for letting us have the party here."

"Of course!" Hank hugged her back tightly, "Figured you guys would want a nice big place to have a party, and for you all to crash after, saves hotel fees." He pulled away as Beca awkwardly hugged him too, Aubrey, Stacie and Amy in tow (Benji had gone over to the old Bella house to see Emily before the graduation ceremony).

"Thanks Dr Mitchell, we really appreciate this." Aubrey grinned, a tired Bella on her hip fussing a little as she clung to her mother's t-shirt.

"Hank, please." He smiled warmly, "And it's no problem, Sheila and I are going to Vegas for the weekend anyway, it means there's someone here to keep an eye on the house whilst we're away."

Hank moved aside to let the girls in, Bella grumbling unhappily as she wriggled in Aubrey's arms.

"Tireddd." She whinged, looking up at her mother with unhappy eyes and a wobbling lip.

"Okay honey." Aubrey cooed, "You want a nap before we go and see Aunty Emily?"

"Uh-huh." Bella nodded, burying her head in Aubrey's neck as she lifted her up into her arms.

"I set up Beca's old cot in the first guest room on the left." Sheila smiled warmly as she walked in from the kitchen to greet the guests, a plate of brownies in her hand.

"Ooo brownies!" Beca grinned, dropping Chloe's hand as she raced to grab one, the redhead shaking her head with a short laugh, "What?" Beca asked incredulously as she heard Chloe's laugh, mouth already full of brownie.

"Nothing." Chloe grinned, "You're just cute when you act like a big kid." She teased as Beca rolled her eyes.

A subtle smile spread across Hank's face as he watched Chloe walk over to Beca, wiping away a small cluster of crumbs from her cheek with her thumb before giving her a soft kiss. Seeing his daughter so happy was perhaps the greatest thing in the world, and watching Chloe (a young woman who had been through so much horror) so relaxed and content filled his heart with so much pride he thought it might burst. Aubrey and Stacie disappeared up the stairs to put Bella down for a nap and unpack their bags, Amy soon close behind deciding she wanted to nap too, still grumbling about her six am get up. Sheila turned to Hank with a warm smile, plate out of brownies left on the kitchen island as she grabbed the handle of her suitcase.

"C'mon you, we don't want to miss our flight." She grinned, giving Hank a gentle nudge as he turned away from his daughter.

"Yeah, good point." Hank smiled, kissing her cheek before turning back to Beca, "So you and Chloe are staying the whole weekend yeah?"

Beca managed to drag her attention away from Chloe for a moment, her head resting on Chloe's shoulder, "Mhm, I don't know if all the Bellas are, but Chlo and I are definitely here until you guys get back on Monday."

"Great, we'll see you then. Oh, and don't go too crazy okay? Because you'll have to clean it up y'know." Hank raised an eyebrow as Beca rolled her eyes.

"Dad, I'm nearly thirty… Chloe is in her thirties! I think our mad partying days are behind us."

"I dunno Beca, when the Bellas get together it can be a little like we're in college again." Chloe mused, a teasing smirk on her face as she gave the brunette a playful nudge.

"Okay… but don't tell my dad that!" Beca teased, poking Chloe with her finger.

Hank simply chuckled, shaking his head a little as he headed for the door, throwing one last look at the happy couple as he headed out of the door with his wife. He turned to her as they loaded their bags into the trunk of the waiting cab.

"They really do look happy don't they?" He mused as Sheila grinned back at him.

"They do. They've got that honeymoon glow to them." Sheila's smile was broad and genuine. She loved both of them as much as any mother would, and seeing them this content made her heart swell.

"Remember when we were that young and in love?" Hank laughed as his wife gave him a playful shove.

"Hey! We're still young! And in love!" Sheila scoffed as she prodded him, "You'll see. We'll take Vegas by a storm like we would do in our twenties."

"Is that a promise?" Hank raised an eyebrow in mischief as Sheila rolled her eyes.

"Just get in the cab." She giggled.

The Bellas had arrived in dribs and drabs throughout the morning and early afternoon, all of them excited to see the youngest Bella graduate. Once Bella was up from her nap, the group was sat around the living room in Dr Mitchell's house, trying to figure out sleeping arrangements for the weekend.

"So, Chloe and I are taking my old room, Aubrey and Stacie take the biggest guest room with the cot in, Jessica and Ashley can take the guest room next to them, CR and Lilly you guys could bunk up in the last guest room, and then Amy and Flo you guys can crash in the living room?" Beca offered, running her hand through her hair as she sat next to Chloe. Sleeping arrangements were never an easy thing to figure out with the Bellas. And by Bellas she meant Amy.

"Um, you want me to crash on the couch?" Amy raised an eyebrow, "Me?"

"Huh, let's see, do I want to make the woman who made me and Chloe share a creaky sofa bed for two years because she wanted a king size bed in an area that would have fitted two singles, sleep on the couch for one weekend?" Beca mused, giving Amy a look.

"I once had to stay on a rat infested floor using a potato sack as a blanket, but sure the couch is a terrible place to have to sleep." Flo raised her eyebrows.

"I can crash on the couch?" Cynthia-Rose offered, trying to save an argument that would undoubtedly escalate.

"What, and I share a room with the littlest psycho? Not likely" Amy snorted.

"It gives me the chance to consume your soul." Lilly whispered, unheard by everyone, although there was a brief chill in the room.

"Look Amy, there are two choices." Aubrey's voice was firm, the captain like authority never failing to get all of them to sit up a little straighter, "The couch or sharing with Lilly. Pick."

Amy frowned contemplating her options for a moment, "Fine I'll take the couch…" She grumbled, Beca giving Aubrey a grateful look for deescalating the situation.

"Right, now that's sorted, we should get ready to go." Chloe smiled warmly, "The graduation ceremony is in two hours, so come on, there's loads of bedrooms but only two bathrooms, so we need to be smart about this!"

By some miracle (and some amazing drill sergeant work from Aubrey) all the Bellas were ready for Emily's graduation with enough time to spare to get there. It was a quick journey onto campus, and as they stood on the quad, looking for a good place to sit as a group, they couldn't help feeling a little nostalgic. Stacie laced her fingers into Aubrey's, Bella on her hip as Stacie rested her head on her wife's shoulder.

"God… so much happened here didn't it?" She mused, a soft smile on her lips, "Right over there is the auditorium where we used to do Bella training, where we had our first kiss…"

"Hmm, yeah..." Aubrey grinned, "And the trees over there near the Bella house? That's where we got engaged."

"That was such a good night… right after winning Worlds, Emily's formal initiation into the Bellas. You wanted to wait till I graduated, a whole new start after college. You've always been such a romantic Aubrey Posen…" Stacie grinned, lifting her head to kiss her wife's cheek.

"Only for you my love." Aubrey grinned, turning her head to catch Stacie's lips in hers.

"Silly mommas." Bella giggled, hugging into Stacie's hip.

"Take a look around Bells." Stacie grinned, lifting her into her arms so that she could see better, "This is the place where your mommas met and fell in love. Without this place we might never have met."

"I like it here." Bella nodded firmly, "Mommas are happy because of here."

"Yes we are." Aubrey kissed her daughter's cheek, "It's the most important place on earth. It's the reason we have you."

"Bestest place ever!" Bella grinned as her mother's laughed.

Jessica took Ashley's hand, pressing a kiss to her knuckles, "Can you believe that the dorm room we shared is being inhabited by two other people who have no idea what had happened there?"

"I should hope they don't…" Ashley raised an eyebrow, "We did a lot of stuff in there that I'd like to keep private."

Jessica laughed as she leant against her wife, "You know what I mean. They have no idea that two soul mates met there."

Ashley kissed her cheek, "You're such a dork… but you're my dork. Who knows, maybe there's two other young women in there falling in love right now."

"Can you imagine?" Jessica grinned, "The cycle repeating itself… I hope they're half as happy as we are."

Ashley said nothing, simply kissing her wife, a grin on her lips as she did.

Beca smiled as she felt Chloe's arms wrap around her from behind, her chin resting on her shoulder, "Can you believe it's been seven years since we met just over there?"

"You mean since you called a cappella lame and then sauntered off with that wicked grin of yours?" Chloe teased, Beca rolling her eyes as she leant her head against Chloe's.

"We were idiots y'know? Spending all that time pretending we didn't feel anything for each other…" Beca mumbled, a soft smile on her face.

"Yeah… but we made it. We got here Beca. I'm yours, Mitchell. You're stuck with me now." Chloe turned her head so that her forehead was pressed against Beca's temple, a soft giggle on her lips.

"Yeah I really didn't think this through…" Beca mused, laughing as Chloe poked her in the ribs before she turned around and wound her arms around Chloe's waist, "I might be the luckiest idiot in the world though."

"Don't you forget it." Chloe grinned, placing a soft kiss on her lips.

"Guys! Over here!" The girls were pulled out of their reminiscing by Benji calling for them, waving a little manically from a few rows from the front. Next to him were Katherine Junk and Alex Hardon, Emily's parents, who already looked like they might burst with pride.

"Hey Mrs Junk!" Beca grinned as they reached them, "Great seats!"

"I got here really early and stuck as many items as I could think off on all the seats I could manage." Katherine grinned, "It's so great that you all came!"

"Are you kidding?" Aubrey grinned, "Em's family, you know that. We wouldn't have missed it!"

Katherine beamed at them, "You really are Bellas, in every way."

Aubrey blushed a little , still grinning as Stacie rested her head on her wife's shoulder, Bella in her arms. Katherine gasped as her eyes settled on Bella, meeting her for the first time.

"Is this little Bella?! She's gorgeous!" Katherine cooed, Stacie practically bursting with pride.

"She really is." Stacie looked to Bella, "Hey Bells, this is your Aunty Emily's momma, can you say hi?"

"Hi." Bella whispered shyly, hiding her face in Stacie's neck.

"Hi sweetie!" Katherine grinned, cooing over her for a moment as the Bellas settled into the seats that she had managed to save them. It was a few moments later when Katherine carefully pulled Aubrey to one side.

"Everything okay?" Aubrey frowned a little.

"Yeah. I just… I never thanked you. For the Cayman Islands." Katherine's smile was a little watery as she looked at Aubrey, "Emily hasn't said much about it, but what she did say was that you were her rock. And the reason you got shot was… was because you stepped in to defend her from that creep."

"That's not…" Aubrey started, a soft smile, "Does she blame herself for that? Because it wasn't on her. Besides, she saved my life out there. When we were on that ridiculous dinghy, it took us thirty minutes to get back to the dock and it was so cold."

Aubrey closed her eyes for a second, taking a deep breath, "I was in so much pain and Jess was saying 'you need to stay awake, you need to stay awake' but all I can think is how cold it is and how much my leg hurts. It was Emily who kept me talking, kept me awake. When I was in the hospital, the doctor said if I'd have passed out there, with the cold and the blood loss the likelihood is I would've gotten hypothermia… I might've died."

Aubrey quickly wiped away a couple of tears, a smile on her face, "Thanks to Emily I got to meet my daughter. So kicking an old skeeve's legs out from under him? It's nothing."

Katherine's eyes were also watery as she hugged Aubrey tightly, "No-one looks after the Bellas like you do, even after graduation. I'm so glad they have you." She pulled back, wiping her cheeks as she smiled, "No more of this now. Today's a happy day."

Aubrey nodded, "It really is. We're so proud of her, graduating with honours, top of her class. She’s worked so hard. Are you coming to the party at Dr Mitchell's later?"

Katherine grinned as they rejoined the group, "Of course! Like I'd miss a Bellas party!"

They were soon seated and the graduation ceremony started. There was not a dry eye amongst them as Emily walked across the stage and accepted her degree classification, a broad grin on her face as she could hear the cheers, the whoops, the whistling that came from her proud family. They made more noise than any other student's family, but Emily didn't mind. It was one of the many reasons she loved them. She waved to them as she crossed the stage, giggling as Benji screamed: "I love you Emily Junk!"

An hour later the ceremony was finally over, Emily bounding over like an excited Labrador as she was swept into her proud mother's arms.

"I'm so proud of you Emily! I can't believe my baby girl's all grown-up!" Katherine held her only child tight in her arms as spun her a little.

"Mom put me down!" Emily giggled, holding onto her cap as they spun.

Katherine set Emily down cupping her face, tears in her eyes, "I'm so proud of you baby girl."

"Thanks mom." Emily grinned as the Bellas flocked in, wide grins and damp eyes all around, "I'm so glad you guys could come!"

"C'mon Legacy, like we'd miss this!" Beca grinned, punching her arm gently, "Proud of you kid."

"So proud!" Chloe beamed, "You've worked so hard."

"Little Legacy's all grown up!" Cynthia-Rose grinned.

"Look at those giraffe legs, there's nothing little about her!" Amy scoffed.

Emily just giggled as she enveloped them all into a group hug, tightly enveloped in their arms as she soaked in the love of her family, trying to hug all of them at the same time.

"I love you guys." Emily laughed as the group hug broke apart, wiping away tears with the back of her hands.

"We love you too Em." Aubrey grinned.

"Um, can the boyfriend get some time with his smart ass girlfriend?" Benji carefully and politely pushed his way through the crowd of Bellas to pull Emily into his arms, lifting her a little as he spun her.

"Oh he's allowed to twirl you?" Katherine raised an eyebrow as Alex wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Leave them alone… remember when we were dating in college?" Alex raised an eyebrow as he held his wife close.

"Oh yeah…" Katherine grinned, "Okay yeah, they are way more tame than we were."

An hour later and the party was in full swing, the Bellas enjoying a party together that wasn’t a pretext for something awful, just a celebration of everything that Emily had achieved. Beca watched the party unfold, grinning as she sipped her soda. Benji came and stood next to Beca, dithering again.

"I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it now." Benji licked his dry lips, "I asked her dad and he's really excited. I can do this. Right?"

Beca laughed as Benji looked to her, "Dude. You have been in three off-Broadway shows, you sing and dance in front of packed crowds you don't even know. You can ask the love of your life to marry you in front of your family and hers. It's gonna be great." Beca nudged him with her shoulder.

"Yeah?" Benji smiled warmly, turning the ring box in his hand.

"Yes! Now go, go make her the future Mrs Applebaum!" Beca shoved him away with a grin on her face, making a shooing motion with her hand as he turned back to look at her.

Chloe moved next to her girlfriend, a small smile on her face as she frowned a little, "Okay, what're you two up to? You've been squirrelly since the airport!"

"You'll see." Beca grinned, sipping her drink.

Benji reached Emily who was talking with Jessica and Ashley, gently pulling her away, clearing his throat as a hush fell over the room.

"Um, Emily. Ever since we met at that a cappella party four years ago, you've been the queen of my heart…" Benji flicked his wrist to reveal a playing card as Beca rolled her eyes, still grinning. Trust Benji to make it dorky.

"I can't imagine any version of a future without you. Everything I am comes from you. See, you always keep a part of me right here." He reached behind her ear and seemed to pull out a tiny passport sized photo of the two of them from behind her ear. Emily was giggling a little, tears in her eyes as she frowned in confusion.

"You are my rock, my guiding light, my whole universe. I want to wake up every day knowing that you're right there by my side. So, Emily Junk…" Benji grinned as he got down on one knee, taking the ring box and opening it. Emily gasped, hands clapping over her mouth, tears spilling down her cheeks.

"Will you marry me?" Benji asked, the whole room holding a collective breath as Emily tried to find her words.

"Yes, god yes." She choked out between her sobs, smile so wide that it might crack her face in half. Emily held out her shaking left hand as Benji slipped the ring onto her finger, clumsily getting to his feet as he pulled her into a deep kiss.

Loud cheers rang out across the house as they did, Katherine rushing over to hug them both tightly. Chloe had gripped Beca's arm so tightly she was in danger in cutting off circulation as Benji had got down on one knee, but now finally released it as she turned to Beca.

"How long have you known?!" She squeaked excitedly.

"Since the airport." Beca grinned, leaning against Chloe, "He showed me the ring whilst we were waiting to board."

"I can't believe you didn't tell me!" Chloe slapped her arm playfully, an eyebrow raised.

"Ow!" Beca exclaimed, a look of mock outrage on her face, "He trusted me with a secret, I kept it, that makes me a great friend!"

"Hm… I suppose…" Chloe raised an eyebrow, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek, "I'm gonna go and congratulate them, you coming?"

"In a sec." Beca nodded, "I just wanna freshen up my drink."

"Kay!" Chloe grinned.

Beca leant against the kitchen island, a grin on her lips. Stacie sidled up to her, having already congratulated the newly engaged couple.

"Uh oh…" Stacie chuckled as she leant next to the short brunette, "Is someone catching proposal fever?"

"What?! No… don't be ridiculous." Beca shook her head, but her chest was pounding. All she had been thinking about since Benji had pulled that ring out of his carry on was the little ring box sat hidden under her bed.

"C'mon Becs… I know that look. It's the same look Aubrey had at Worlds and then BAM she was down on one knee." Stacie sipped her glass of wine as she looked at the blush was steadily growing on Beca's face.

"I- I may have been thinking about it…" Beca shrugged as Stacie squealed in excitement.

"I knew it! Okay, how? When?" Stacie bit her lip in excitement as she lent in close, eyes sparking with excitement.

"Slow down!" Beca raised her eyebrows, shaking her head a little, "Just… just give me a chance to think it through. Although I'm definitely gonna need the Bellas to help, that's just a given." Beca shrugged.

"Of course!" Stacie grinned, "Try and stop us!"

Beca just shook her head, laughing as she grabbed another soda, "You think she's gonna say yes?" Her tone was hesitant as she kept her eyes on her drink.

"Beca…" Stacie put her hand on her shoulder, "Of course she will. Are you mad? Why wouldn't she?"

"I dunno… even after everything I guess I just- it's stupid." Beca shook her head.

"Tell me." Stacie pressed gently.

"What if she doesn't want to? What if this is all just a temporary thing?" Beca rolled her eyes, "Told you it was stupid."

"It's not stupid." Stacie shook her head, smiling softly, "You've been through a lot Beca, it's been a rough ride. But ever since I joined the Bellas, I knew you guys were a forever kinda deal. You really are the aca-power couple. Don't tell Aubrey I said that…" Stacie frowned as Beca laughed.

"Thanks Stace. Wanna help me plan it?" Beca raised an eyebrow as she saw Stacie's light up.

"Really?!" Stacie was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

"Yeah. Who else would I ask to be my best woman?" Beca winced as Stacie squealed again, hugging her tightly.

"Of course Becs! It's gonna be amazing, I swear!" Stacie mumbled into her ear.

"Alright, get off, people are going to know there's something going on otherwise." Beca grumbled, but there was a smirk on her face as she did, "I'm gonna go and congratulate the happy couple, you chill because you look like you're gonna explode."

Stacie grinned as Beca walked away, trying to sooth her excitement as she sipped at her wine. Beca put a hand on Emily's shoulder to get their attention, oomphing a little as the tall Beca hugged her tightly.

"Congrats Em!" Beca wheezed, "Okay, kid you're choking me a little…"

"Sorry!" Emily grinned as she pulled away, "Sorry, I'm just- I'm so happy!"

"I know. I'm so happy for you guys." Beca was beaming from ear to ear, giving Benji a warm hug too.

"Benji was saying that it was you that you that reassured him that everything would be okay. So thank you." Emily was still grinning as she hugged Beca again.

"Hey look, this was all on him. Especially the magic stuff, I cannot stress that enough." Beca smirked at him as she pulled back, "Oh, this is going to be a little bit of an anti-climax after getting engaged but…" Beca pulled a small card out of her back pocket, "Here."

Emily frowned a little as she took the card from Beca, before gasping a little as she read it, "Are you kidding me?!"

"Nope." Beca grinned, "It's official. You Emily Junk are represented by Twilight Records." The card in Emily's hands was a business card with her name on it and underneath were the words 'Twilight Records, Agent: Beca Mitchell'. "There's still some paperwork to sign, but that can wait till you guys get to New York."

"You're gonna be my agent?" Emily beamed, an excited squeak in her voice.

"Of course! Like I'd let anyone else represent my little sister!" Beca blushed as the words left her mouth but Emily just squealed more, hugging her again.

"Beca this is amazing, I can't thank you enough." Emily was crying a little again as she pulled away.

"Hey c'mon you're family, it's nothing." Beca rolled her eyes, "Okay stop pulling that face, cos you'll make me cry…"

Chloe wound her arms around Beca's waist and kissed her cheek, "You're in the best hands in the world, Beca's the best producer in New York, hell in America!"

"Honey that's so sweet." Beca leant back and kissed Chloe, a light blush on her cheeks as she did so, "I love you. Even if you're blinded by your love for me."

Chloe giggled as she shook her head, "Nope." She popped the p as she rested her head against Beca's, "Just spittin’ straight facts yo…"

"Oh sweetie… don't do that again." Beca grimaced as Chloe giggled.

A couple of hours later, Stacie and Aubrey quietly slipped upstairs, a sleeping Bella in Aubrey's arms. It was way past the young girl's bedtime, and with all the excitement of the day it was no wonder she was fast asleep. As they lay her down in the cot, Stacie wrapped her arms around her wife's waist.

"She's so cute when she's asleep…" Stacie mumbled, "I can't believe she's almost two!"

"I know." Aubrey grinned, "She's growing up so fast…"

"Did you see the way that Em and Benji were cooing over her? I bet it won't be long before they've got one of their own y'know…" Stacie raised an eyebrow as they took a moment to sit on the edge of the bed and take a breather.

"Oh god don't…" Aubrey smiled as she shook her head, "Emily's a grown up now. Like a proper grown up. She graduated college, got engaged… when did we start being adults?"

"I'm gonna say when we turned twenty one?" Stacie raised an eyebrow as Aubrey gave her a playful shove.

"You know what I mean. This is us, we're adults now, with bills and taxes and careers and a daughter… college feels so long ago, but only yesterday at the same time." Aubrey sighed, flopping backwards on the bed.

Stacie lay next to her, rolling onto her side so that she could look at her wife, a soft smile on her face as she gently traced her fingers on Aubrey's stomach, "I know. It's crazy that we're here, that we're adults. But you know what? We're really good at it."

Aubrey laughed softly, "That is true. We are excellent at it." The blonde bit her lip, pausing for a moment as she mulled over what she was going to say next, "I um… I've been thinking."

"Uh oh…" Stacie raised an eyebrow, smirking, "Should I get you an ice pack?"

Aubrey rolled her eyes but carried on regardless, "I was thinking… maybe we should have another kid?"

Stacie gasped slightly, propping herself up on her elbow, tears forming in the corner of her eyes, "Really? You want another?" She asked, a grin spreading across her face.

"Yeah…" Aubrey was grinning to as she intertwined her fingers with Stacie's, "I always wanted a big family, maybe that's my Southern upbringing or something…"

"How many kids do you see us having?" Stacie asked, an eyebrow raised.

"Three? Maybe four?" Aubrey pulled a face as she blushed a little, looking at their joined hands.

"I love that." Stacie grinned, "I like the idea of having our own little Vonn Trap family…"

"Really?" Aubrey beamed.

"Really." Stacie nodded, lifting their joined hands to kiss her wife's knuckle, "I wanna build a dynasty with you Aubrey Posen."

Aubrey laughed as she leant up to kiss her, "So… we're really going to do this? Have another kid?"

"Yeah… we really are…" Stacie beamed, "We're gonna be mom's again, and we're gonna be amazing at it."

"Naturally." Aubrey grinned as she kissed her again.

"How do you wanna do this?" Stacie asked, running her fingers through Aubrey's hair.

"I was thinking… I could carry this time?" Aubrey whispered, playing with Stacie's fingers, feeling a little shy.

"Oh thank god…" Stacie breathed, laughing softly, "I love Bella to death, but pregnancy and me? Not a good mix."

"You don't have to tell me!" Aubrey giggled, "That third trimester was… interesting."

Stacie poked her in the ribs as Aubrey laughed, "You'd be great at it though. I think it's something you were born to do."

"I love you…" A small tear slipped down Aubrey's cheek as she smiled at her wife.

"I love you too." Stacie kissed her wife, grinning mischievously, "Wanna make a baby now?"

"You know for a scientist your lack of knowledge when it comes to biology is shocking…" Aubrey laughed as Stacie leaned in to kiss her deeply.

"Oh baby you always underestimate my abilities…" Stacie mumbled, voice husky as she rolled on top of her wife, Aubrey giggling as she did so.

Once back in New York, Beca and Chloe threw themselves back into work. Chloe was in the middle of choreographing for a production of Cats for the theatre (to which Beca had rolled her eyes multiple times, especially when she came home and started playing the soundtrack to work out sections that were causing problems), and Beca was working with Emily to start producing her debut album. It hadn't escaped either of them that they were working harder and harder the closer they got to the anniversary.

They spent time with Aubrey and Stacie for Bella's birthday the week before (it was a quiet one, the Bellas all having to work having already taken a big chunk of time off for the weekend of Emily's graduation) but the night before, Chloe came home shutting the door quickly behind her. She pressed her back against the door as her legs went from under her, breathing heavily, hands clenched into fists as she tried to stop herself shaking. She'd been on the subway and as she'd gone to get off at her stop a tall, balding man in a suit had bumped into her knocking her off her feet. It had been a total accident and he'd been nothing but apologetic as he helped her to her feet, even offering to pay for her spilled coffee, but Chloe had just seen Fergus Hobart again, shrinking away as a hand was offered but forcing a smile and letting him help as she shakily got to her feet. Chloe had held it together until she'd got home, but now in the safety of her home she fell apart.

"Chloe? Honey?" Beca had been in the bathroom when the redhead had arrived home, but as she walked out she found Chloe having a panic attack. She moved quickly, kneeling in front of her girlfriend and taking her hands, "Chloe, it's okay. You're home. I'm here. Just take a deep breath for me."

Chloe forced herself to take a deep breath, and then another, gripping Beca's hands tightly, "Ten minutes?" She managed to gasp out, Beca nodding as Chloe pulled her closer, gripping her tightly as she buried her face in her chest. Beca wrapped her arms tightly around Chloe, kissing the top of her head.

"I've got you honey. It's okay." Beca whispered into her hair as Chloe sobbed, "Just breathe. You're okay."

Chloe managed to get control of her breathing again, pulling back from the hug as she heard Beca's watch beep (there was always a ten minute timer ready to go on it), head resting against the brunette's.

"Do you need longer?" Beca asked softly, tucking some of Chloe's hair behind her ear.

"M'okay." Chloe mumbled a soft smile on her lips, "Sorry…"

"You've nothing to be sorry for." Beca shook her head, "Do you wanna talk about it?"

"It was so stupid." Chloe sighed, sniffing a little, "I was on the subway, this older guy accidentally knocked me over, but at a glance he looked like… he looked like Hobart."

"Oh sweetie… that's not stupid." Beca gently stroked Chloe's cheek with her thumb, "It's totally normal. It happened to me yesterday, there's this exec at Twilight Records who looks like him, and I ran straight into him as I went to make a coffee and I just… I nearly threw up."

"Why didn't you call me?" Chloe frowned.

"I knew you'd be in rehearsal, and I was okay after a few minutes." Beca's eyes met Chloe's as she smiled softly, "I took tomorrow off work, I haven't been able to focus much the last couple of days anyway and it felt easier than forcing myself to be productive when I couldn't."

"Me too." Chloe sniffed, "That way I don't risk injuring myself if I don't sleep tonight."

"Sounds like a good plan to me." Beca rested her head on Chloe's shoulder, "All I want to do is sleep honestly. It's been such a long week."

"Tell me about it." Chloe sighed, "Between the anniversary and work, I'm exhausted."

"Let's go to bed." Beca breathed, kissing her softly, "We can put a stupid movie on, order a pizza, and we'll just try and get some sleep."

"That sounds amazing." Chloe grinned, letting Beca gently pull her to her feet.

Two hours later, Chloe lay with her head on Beca's shoulder her finger's tracing along the scar as she hummed softly. Beca would never tire of the way Chloe's fingers felt against her bare skin.

"I felt it throb earlier…" Beca mumbled, "Just a little, but instead of my head flashing to what happened, I um…" A light blush spread across her cheeks as she bit her lip, "I was thinking about you."

"Oh?" Chloe grinned as she lifted her head, "Really?"

"Little bit…" Beca blushed deeper as she scrunched her nose, "It just… it was nice y'know."

"Nice? You were using far better objectives on the night." Chloe raised an eyebrow teasingly.

Beca rolled her eyes, "That's not what I meant and you know it. I meant that it was nice to think about something else. Replace a bad memory with a good one."

"Hmm…" Chloe looked thoughtfully at her girlfriend, "I like that. Making new memories to replace the crappy old ones."

"Exactly." Beca ran a hand through Chloe's hair, "There's gonna be plenty of great memories to replace the awful ones."

"Yeah there will." Chloe grinned as she leant in and kissed Beca deeply. Beca smirked against her lips as she kissed her back. After Chloe pulled back, Beca smiled at her adoringly.

"I love you Chloe Beale." She mumbled, "Let's get some sleep."

"Okay." Chloe whispered, sighing a little as she settled onto her shoulder, snuggling into Beca's side. To her surprise, it wasn't long before she drifted off to sleep, content and safe in her girlfriend's arms, even with everything that was going on in her head.

Beca had also fallen asleep relatively quickly, but she was awake early, Chloe still sleeping deeply on her shoulder, snoring lightly. The brunette bit back a laugh as she looked at her girlfriend's slightly open mouth and dishevelled hair; Chloe was always so cute in the morning light. Quietly and carefully, she slipped from under the redhead, grabbing a hoody and a pair of jeans and throwing them on. She quickly scribbled a note for Chloe before grabbing her phone and her bag, gently kissing her girlfriend's forehead before slipping out the front door.

Chloe woke up a few of hours later, realising it was midday. She stretched out a hand for Beca as she stirred, realising that her girlfriend wasn't there either. Frowning, Chloe sat up, rubbing her eyes as she swung her legs out of bed.

"Beca?" Chloe called groggily. She got to the table and picked up the note that had been left in Beca's endearing scrawl.

Gone to grab a few things. Meet me on the roof at 2pm. Love you! B xx

Chloe laughed softly as she set the note back down, running her hand through her messy hair. She had a couple of hours to kill before she had to head up to the roof so she decided to run a bath. It was perhaps the best part of their apartment. Yes it was small, and technically only two rooms including the bathroom, but that second room had a bath and that's all that mattered.

Chloe sunk into the bubbles with a happy sigh, phone in her hand as she smiled warmly, a text making her phone beep.

AUBREY: Hey Chlo how are you doing? Xx

CHLOE: I'm okay. Better than I thought I'd be actually… are you okay? Xx

AUBREY: Yeah, we're good. I'm glad you're doing okay Chloe, you've no idea how relieved I am to hear that. Beca doing okay? xx

CHLOE: I think so? She went out to get a few things apparently, left me a weird note… xx

AUBREY: How can you tell what's weird with Beca? Just out of interest xx

CHLOE: I'm ignoring that. Do you know what she's up to? She wants me to meet her on the roof at 2 xx

AUBREY: Why would I know what the littlest a cappella is up to? Xx

Aubrey grinned as she set down her phone, turning to Beca who had come by to borrow some things.

"She hasn't got a clue Becs." Aubrey grinned.

"Great!" Beca beamed, checking the bag to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything, "Thanks for this guys, I appreciate this."

"Of course." Stacie smiled, "Now go on, go be romantic so that we can get back to our… quiet day in." She had gone to say something flippant but had earned a look from Aubrey that had silenced her.

"Ew, gross." Beca frowned as she looked at them, turning around to leave, "You nerds go back to your… quiet day." She waved her hand over her shoulder as she left.

Aubrey rolled her eyes as she turned to her wife, "Really? Quiet day? She's gonna think we're doing it."

"I'm sorry, I was going to tell what we were doing but I got the Posen death glare!" Stacie protested, grinning, "I could have told her that we were seeing the fertility doctor and you were starting a hormone procedure to get ready to carry our next child?"

Aubrey bit her lip, a wide grin spreading across her lips as she wound her arms around her wife's waist, "I know, I know. I just… I don't want to jinx anything just yet."

"I get it." Stacie smiled broadly, "I'm just excited. We're gonna be mommas again."

"Yeah we are." Aubrey kissed her wife, "Now c'mon, we're gonna be late."

Chloe checked the time on her phone, grinning as it finally said two pm. She took one last look in the bathroom mirror, running a hand through her hair again before heading out of the door. She quickly took the stairs to the roof, opening the door to see what Beca had been up to all day.

"Ta da!" Beca held her arms out wide as she beamed, Chloe gasping softly as she looked around.

Beca had strung up a line of fairy lights above several blankets and cushions, plates of food laid out, a bottle on ice. In front of the carefully arranged food was a large portable projector screen and a projector. Chloe could feel tears pricking at the corner of her eyes as she looked at what Beca had worked so hard at.

"Beca… this is amazing…" Chloe gasped, walking over to her and wrapping her arms around her waist.

"Yeah? You really like it?" Beca asked, hands resting on the back of Chloe's neck.

"Beca it's beautiful… I love it." Chloe leant in and kissed her, grinning against her lips as Beca pulled her closer.

"C'mon…" Beca mumbled as she pulled back a little, "Let's go sit down, I wanna show you something."

"Okay." Chloe let Beca take her hand and gently pull her into the cosy nook the brunette had made for them.

She sat next to Beca, arranging a couple of pillows behind her as she leant back. Beca pulled the bottle from the ice and showed it to Chloe, "For you madam?"

"White wine?" Chloe felt her chest pound a little as she looked to Beca, "Beca-"

"Don't panic, it's all for you!" Beca grinned, "I've got my own." Beca held up a bottle of cider, "But I bought it all by myself, I didn't linger or anything!"

"Becs that's huge!" Chloe grinned wrapping Beca into a tight hug, "I'm so proud of you!"

"Thanks babe." Beca giggled, handing her the bottle and a glass as she pulled back, "I think I'm gonna try that trivia night with the group next week."

"Really? That's amazing!" Chloe was still beaming as she poured herself a glass, "Although are you sure you wanna go to a trivia night?" She pulled a face.

"Are you saying I'm not smart enough for trivia?!" Beca scoffed, mock outraged.

"No! No, just… trivia was never your thing." Chloe back tracked a little, trying to hide a smirk.

"Uh huh…" Beca nodded, "Right."

"You are plenty smart sweetie, it's just that you never struck me as a trivia person…" Chloe leant in and pressed a soft kiss to Beca's lips.

"You're lucky you're pretty." Beca grumbled against her lips.

Chloe winked as they broke the kiss, sipping her wine as she sat back, grinning as Beca passed her a plate, "Mini quiche?" Beca offered.

"Who are you?" Chloe giggled as she took one, Beca rolling her eyes.

"I'm trying to be romantic okay? Give me a break." Beca took one for herself and then looked to Chloe, "What is a quiche?"

Chloe just laughed, lifting Beca's hand to her mouth, "Just try it okay?"

Beca frowned but took a cautious bite, nodding a little as savoured it, "Huh… whatever it is, it isn't bad!"

"See!" Chloe wiped a crumb from Beca's cheek with her thumb.

Beca grinned as she turned her head to kiss Chloe's hand, helping herself to another and grabbing the remote at the same time. She rested her head on Chloe's shoulder as she pressed the buttons she needed to.

"What're you up to?" Chloe asked as she put an arm around Beca's shoulders.

"Just watch okay?" Beca rolled her eyes, grinning as she pressed play, "Now, full disclosure I haven't had time to watch all these so… it might get cringey."

Chloe just watched the screen as she gasped, a smile spreading across her face as she watched the video, "Oh my god… is that us?"

"Yeah." Beca grinned, "I think this is the first Bella practice we ever had. Aubrey used to record them because… well y'know Captain Posen."

Chloe chuckled as she watched eighteen year old Beca begrudgingly start learning the choreography, "God you were such an ass when you first joined the Bellas…"

"Yeah." Beca winced, "And that shirt is awful…"

"No, I love your flannel shirts!" Chloe turned to kiss Beca's head, "I miss them!"

"I still have them somewhere…" Beca lifted her head to look at Chloe, a smirk on her lips, "I can put them on for you, give you a little runway show?"

"Oh?" Chloe raised an eyebrow, "I think I'd like that." She leant down and kissed Beca deeply before turning back to the screen.

They watched their college aged selves on the projector screen, laughing and cringing as they relived the four years they'd spent together at Barden. Beca chuckled as she watched Chloe twirl ribbons around during one of the early rehearsals for the Worlds.

"Why did we ever think that ribbons were the answer?" Beca shook her head.

"I have no idea…" Chloe laughed, "Speaking of ribbons, why did we agree to Amy being up there again?"

"I… I feel like she just wore us down. Y'know the way she does?" Beca frowned, "I love that girl, but god is she draining sometimes."

"Didn't she get us drunk too?" Chloe asked, a thoughtful frown on her face.

"Oh my god yes, that god-awful cocktail she made!" Beca exclaimed, pulling a face, "Y'know that bright pink shit looks like Pepto-Bismol?"

"Ugh yeah…" Chloe shook her head, "Yeah I remember her handing us the drink, and then… the Kennedy Centre performance."

"Yep… that is the only thing I remember as well…" Beca laughed as she curled in closer to Chloe's side, "Sometimes I really miss the Barden days y'know? The simplicity of it… in comparison anyway."

"I know what you mean." Chloe smiled softly, "But y'know, where we are now? It's better. We're grown up, we're doing the jobs that we want to do… we're getting healthier."

"Yeah, that's true." Beca lifted her head, smiling at her girlfriend, "And we were nowhere near mature enough to be together like this then either."

"God, too true…" Chloe chuckled softly, "Thank you for this, for today. I really needed it."

Beca smiled as she leant in to kiss her softly, "Me too. I just wanted us to have a day remembering that the past wasn't all bad. We had a great time together, all of us. Sometimes it's important to remember that."

"Yeah, it is." Chloe lay back, Beca's hand on her stomach as the redhead reached up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, "I love you Becs."

"I love you too." Beca grinned, tracing circles on Chloe's stomach as she stared at her lovingly, "This is a better time for a picnic right? Summertime?"

Chloe laughed, "Yeah, this is way better. Thank you."

Bliss. That would be the way to describe the next few months if you asked Chloe or Beca. Both of them were thriving in therapy, both of them were crushing it at work, and neither of them had suffered from nightmares in months. It wasn't perfect, there were still dark days, days where Chloe was so exhausted from trying to not think rather than dealing with what was on her mind, days were Beca was so stressed and fraught with work that all she wanted was a drink, but they always sat down and talked it through rather than bottling it up. They were managing, and more than that they were thriving.

"Honey will you get that?" Chloe asked Beca as there was a knock at the door, smiling as she stirred the sauce on the stove.

"Sure!" Beca grinned, kissing her cheek as she walked over to the door. If Beca had witnessed this scene as a third party she would have pretended to barf, but somehow being in the middle of it was entirely different.

Beca opened the door, her heart pounding as she saw who was stood there. It was a man she had only met once, but it was during one of the worst days of her life. She licked her dry lips, trying to find her words.

"Beca? Who is it?" Chloe asked, not looking up from the stove as she cooked dinner.

"L-Luke. It's Luke." Beca found her words as she turned from the young man at the door, watching as Chloe's head whipped round so quickly that she might have given herself whiplash.

"Luke…" Chloe was pale as her eyes met her brother's, "What're you doing here?"

"I-" Luke shifted his feet awkwardly. He hadn't seen his sister since the Christmas that she'd come home to disastrous consequences, "I um, I live in New York now…"

"Yeah I know." Chloe crossed her arms across her chest, jaw tight as her chest pounded, "Dad paid me a visit wanting to know where you were."

"I had no idea…" Luke shook his head, still stood in the doorway, not wanting to come in without an invitation, "I'm sorry Chloe, I didn't think he'd come here…"

"Well he did." Chloe didn't move as she stood her ground.

Had this been two years ago, a year, hell six months ago, she might have fallen apart, might not have been able to stand here like this. But now? Now Chloe had the strength to stand her ground. Beca moved from standing near the door to the stove, stirring the contents of the pan. She was determined not to undermine Chloe whilst she was being this strong, but she wanted her to know she was right here if she needed her.

"I was… I was hoping we could talk?" Luke looked at his feet.

"Come in." Chloe's tone was firm but there was no malice in it, "Sit at the table, I'm making dinner."

"Oh… I don't wanna intrude if you guys have plans." Luke ran a hand through his short red hair in the same way Chloe did when she was uncomfortable.

"It's fine." Beca smiled warmly, "There should be enough for the three of us." She knew they needed to talk about things, and this way Chloe didn't have to do this alone.

"Actually…" Chloe turned to Beca, a soft smile on her face, "Could you give us some space?"

"Are you sure?" Beca frowned softly, hand on Chloe's hip.

"Yeah. I'm okay. Go see Stacie and Aubrey, give Bella a hug from me." Chloe tucked a lock of hair behind her girlfriend's ear with a warm smile.

"Okay." Beca nodded, "Call me if you need me though yeah? I'll be here in a heartbeat."

"I will." Chloe grinned, turning back to the food.

Luke entered the apartment as Beca kissed Chloe's cheek and grabbed her coat, giving Chloe one last supportive smile before she left. Chloe turned back to the pasta sauce she was making, Luke sitting at the table as he'd been told to. There was a moment of tense silence between them, Chloe hyper fixated on the food.

"That smells great." Luke forced a smile, hands twisting together as his heart threatened to pound out of his chest, "What are we having?"

"Spaghetti bolognese." Chloe was still looking at the stove as she responded.

"Sounds great." Luke nodded. There was another moment of tense silence before Luke tried again, "Um, do you have anything to drink?"

"There's soda in the fridge. Or coffee." Chloe still didn't look from the stove.

"Oh… you got anything stronger?" Luke asked.

"No. Beca doesn't drink, so I don't keep it in the apartment." Chloe shook her head, "Oh, wait, there's that bottle of red wine I was given today. I was just gonna give to Aubrey but we can have it. There's glasses in that cabinet, and the bottle is in the gift bag by the door." She waved in the direction of the items, still focused on the dinner as she checked on the pasta.

Luke got up and got the glasses and the bottle of wine, turning to Chloe as he set them down on the table, "You got a corkscrew?"

"Uh, third draw down." Chloe moved to drain the water from the pasta, grabbing the two bowls as she started to plate it up.

"Got it." Luke opened the wine and poured them each a glass, sitting down as Chloe set the food down with some cutlery.

They ate in silence for a couple of moments, before Luke set down his cutlery, "I don't know how to start this…"

"Why did you come here?" Chloe looked up from her food. There was no anger in her eyes, she wasn't angry. She was confused and tense.

"I- I don't know…" Luke shook his head, "I wanted to see you, wanted to apologise…" Luke looked up from his plate, his eyes meeting his sister's as he sniffed slightly, "For… for that night in the basement. For not doing anything to stop him. I was an awful big brother, I just let him do that to you. I did try standing up to him, once… after he made me do that to you. Mom had to take me to the ER for stitches. Which is obviously nothing compared to what you had to go through, why am I going on about how I was treated, god…"

Luke put his head in his hands as Chloe just stared at him. She didn't know what to say. This was the first conversation they'd had since she was twelve years old, and she just didn't know to approach this.

"Every night I close my eyes and I'm right back there. I can hear you asking for my help, begging him to stop and I… I just let it happen Chloe. And every time after that, every time you ended up in that basement, every time he hit you I just… I wanted to do something I swear I did, I was just too much of a coward to do anything about it. I'd hate me too in your shoes…" Luke was crying softly, head buried in his hands.

Chloe wasn't used to seeing him like this. This was her big brother, the quarterback, the star athlete, the stereotypical jock. Yet here he was sobbing into his hands at her dinner table, rambling and saying that… she hated him?

"I don't hate you…" Chloe whispered, Luke having said nothing else, "It wasn't your fault."

Luke lifted his head, confusion etched in every inch of it, "What? Of course it was…"

"No." Chloe shook her head, "I remember everything about that night. Including the bruise on your cheek, the way your hands shook, the tears in your eyes…" The redhead swallowed a lump in her throat, holding back her own tears, "I never blamed you for it. For any of it. I always thought you hated me for bringing all of this down on our family. You pulled away, I barely saw you even when I was still living in Portland…"

"I thought it would be easier." He mumbled, wiping at his face with his sleeves, "I just figured you'd hate me for being complicit in what happened… I was too much off a coward to stand up to dad so you hating me made that fact a little less painful. God I'm so selfish… none of this is about me and here I am bitching about how it made me feel. I don't know how you can keep carrying on after everything that happened…"

Chloe smiled softly as she reached out for Luke's hand. It felt odd, it was something they hadn't done in a long time, but as she took his hand in hers and squeezed it gently she felt like a sister again. He looked at her with wonder in his eyes. Luke had come here expecting to be screamed at, berated, even have things thrown at him, but this? This was alien to him.

"Do… does this mean you forgive me?" He asked tentatively.

"There's nothing to forgive Luke. Dad's a monster, but it's neither of our faults. It's taking me a long time to realise that, too long arguably." Chloe's smile was warm and caring as she sniffed, "Now eat your dinner. It's gonna go cold."

Luke laughed a little as she winked at him. They ate in relative silence for a little while, but it was more comfortable than before.

"Where did you learn to cook like this?" Luke asked as he looked up at Chloe again, wiping his mouth on a napkin.

"My college roommate, Aubrey. She cooks way fancier than I do but she taught me the basics." Chloe grinned.

"Leaving Portland was the best thing that ever happened to you wasn't it?" Luke smiled softly, a sad glint in his eyes.

"Yeah…" Chloe nodded, sadness in her eyes too, "I feel so bad about leaving mom, about leaving you, but long term? It's the best decision I ever made."

"She misses you, mom does. Sorry, that's not helpful…" Luke shook his head.

"No, no." Chloe shook her head, "It kinda makes me feel better? That she still thinks about me… I miss her too."

Luke smiled softly, "I know about your secret letters to mom. It's how I knew you were in New York… I guess I just wanted to follow in your footsteps."

Chloe smiled at him, "What are your plans whilst you're here?"

Luke bit his lip, looking down at the table, "I- I wanna act. There're some old college buddies of mine here in the city and I moved in with them. I've been doing some community theatre work, it's not much right now but… it's what I really want to do."

"That's amazing Luke!" Chloe beamed, "I didn't know you liked acting…"

"I uh… I had to keep it under wraps, obviously, but I did a production of Streetcar in college… I was Stanley, and I just… I kind of fell in love with it." Luke shrugged, going a little red as he sipped his wine.

Chloe smiled warmly, "You have to let me know the next time you're in something, I'd love to see you on stage!"

"Really?" Luke smiled, looking up at Chloe, "I'd love that…"

"I think it's time we started behaving like siblings again, don't you?" Chloe sniffed, "I'm not in contact with mom or Jack anymore, you're kinda the last blood relative I have…" She raised an eyebrow, a smile on her lips as she looked at her brother.

"Me neither. It would be nice to reconnect…" Luke smiled too, eyes flicking down to Chloe's phone as it beeped. Chloe smirked as she looked at the text from Beca.

BECA: I love you, I'm so proud of you, I hope it's going okay. Call me as soon as you can? Xx

"Sorry… that's Beca checking in." Chloe grinned as Luke sipped his drink, "She worries, but she's amazing."

"She makes you happy doesn't she?" Luke asked, a genuine fond smile on his face.

"Yeah she really does." Chloe bit her lip as she thought about how happy she'd been lately, "I… I never thought I'd be this happy, not with another woman, not after what happened. But Beca? She's the love of my life… I wanna spend the rest of my life with her…"

Luke grinned broadly, "I really am glad that you're this happy sis. It's the least you deserve after everything that happened."

"What about you? Are you happy now?" Chloe asked, genuine concern on her face as she sipped her drink.

"Happier." He nodded, "I'll get there. Eventually."

"Why did you stay in Portland so long?" Chloe asked, a slight frown on her face.

"I… I felt like I deserved it…" Luke whispered as he shifted in his chair, "After everything that happened I felt like I had to stay. That and it took the heat off mom a little bit if I was there to step in. I didn't do it as often as I should've. I feel bad about leaving her there with him…"

"I was talking to my therapist about this the other day." Chloe crossed her legs as she shifted, a soft smile on her lips, "She was saying that it's normal to feel guilty in this sort of situation, but that I can't do anything about it. That there is nothing more I can do to help mom now, I have to look after myself now. And so do you."

"Yeah. Maybe you're right…" Luke smiled softly, "We can fix this right? Us? I'm not expecting us to be the Brady Bunch all of a sudden, but I'd like for us to be in each other's lives again."

"I'd like that too." Chloe nodded, smiling warmly, "Give me your phone, I'll give you my cell number."

They exchanged mobile numbers quickly and Luke got up to leave, citing an early rehearsal. Chloe walked him to the door, opening it for him as he turned to her with an awkward smile.

"I uh… is it soon for me to give you a hug?" Luke asked.

"Come here." Chloe held out her arms for him to wrap her in a hug. Luke hugged her tightly, the young woman feeling far more comfortable than she thought she would in the embrace. He pulled back after a couple of moments, smiling warmly.

"I'll see you soon Chloe." Luke grinned, waving as he walked down the hall.

"Later Luke." Chloe leant against the door frame watching her brother walk down the hall. Once he'd gotten into the elevator, she retreated into the apartment still smiling softly as she picked up her phone and called Beca, "Hey baby… yeah, I'm okay. Yes I promise. Look just come home okay? I love you too honey. See you soon."

Beca was home twenty minutes later, a cautious smile on her face as she walked into the apartment. Chloe had cleaned up the dinner pots and gotten rid of the rubbish and was now sat with a coffee at the table.

"Hey." Chloe smiled as Beca walked in.

"Hey." Beca grinned back, "Are you okay?"

Chloe nodded, getting to her feet and taking Beca's hand, gently pulling her to the bed and into her arms, head nuzzling into the side of her neck, "Ten minutes." She mumbled.

Beca kissed her head in response, pressing the button on her watch as she pulled Chloe closer. They said nothing as Chloe soaked in the feeling of comfort she got from being in her girlfriend's arms. Once the alarm went off Chloe lifted her head to look at Beca with a soft happy sigh.

"I did it." She smiled widely, "And it wasn't scary, and I didn't freak out… even though we talked about what happened in Portland. We're gonna try and build some kind of relationship… it's not going to be perfect or anything, but it's something."

"I'm so proud of you baby," Beca cupped her cheek with her hand, "You're the strongest woman I have ever met, and I have never been more in awe of you."

"I wouldn't be able to this without you Beca." Chloe pressed a kiss to the palm of Beca's hand, "How are Aubrey and Stacie?" The redhead was drained after such an emotional evening and wanted to talk about something more mundane right now.

"They're good. Y'know busy, but we had Thai food and watched a dumb movie, it was nice." Beca grinned. She couldn't tell Chloe what she'd really been up to, not yet.


"Hey!" Beca grinned as Stacie opened the door, "I um… I need somewhere to hide out for a few hours, I'm not interrupting anything am I?"

"Oh god what did you do?" Came Aubrey's response from inside the apartment, Beca rolling her eyes as Stacie chuckled, inviting her in.

"I haven't done anything!" Beca protested, "Why was that your first response?"

Aubrey simply raised an eyebrow in response, sipping her coffee as Stacie handed Beca a mug.

"Ignore her." Stacie gave her wife a look before turning to Beca, "What's going on?"

Beca took a deep breath as she sat next to Aubrey on the sofa, "Luke is at our apartment."

"Your old boss from the radio station at Barden? With the terrific abs?" Stacie frowned as Aubrey turned to give her a look.

"How do you? Never mind…" Beca shook her head with a grin, "No, Chloe's brother Luke."

"What? What did he want?" Aubrey frowned, concerned that Chloe was alone with any member of her family.

"To talk. I tried to stay but Chloe wanted some space to talk to him alone, and she was so strong about it I was not gonna argue with her." Beca smiled a little as she remembered the strength in Chloe's eyes, "She's come really far Bree, I'm not as worried about her being alone as I would've been a few months ago."

"That's great." Stacie grinned.

"It is." Aubrey nodded, "Alright then. Let's take our minds off Chloe with some takeout yeah?"

"Thai?" Stacie looked to the women on her couch who both nodded.

"Actually, I have something I wanna run past you both whilst I'm here. Chloe being otherwise preoccupied works really well for me." Beca sat up a little straighter as she pulled her phone from her pocket and showed the photo to Aubrey.

"Oh my god Beca is that-?" Aubrey gasped, grabbing the phone to get a better look.

"Yeah. It's my Gran's apparently." Beca ran a hand through her hair, a shy grin on her face.

"How long have you had this?" Aubrey exclaimed.

"Two years almost." Beca winced a little, "I um… I was gonna propose when Chloe and I got back from Portland but… y'know. I'm glad though, that it didn't work out like that. I think it's better this way."

"Oh you finally told Bree?!" Stacie squealed excitedly as she re-entered the room having left to phone in their order.

"Wait how long have you known?" Aubrey turned to face her wife, unable to believe she'd kept a secret this big from her.

"Two ish years?" Stacie grinned trying to look innocent.

"And you didn't think to tell me? Your WIFE?" Aubrey raised her eyebrows.

"Okay, I feel like we're getting off topic…"Beca frowned, "Look, I've been thinking about how I want to ask Chloe to marry me and I wanted to know what you guys thought."

Beca laid out her plan for Stacie and Aubrey, Stacie sat on the arm of the sofa next to Aubrey, arm around her shoulders. Neither of the pairs eyes were dry when Beca had finished.

"Beca…" Stacie sniffed, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand, "That's beautiful…"

"Yeah?" Beca asked, biting her lip nervously.

"I didn't know you were such a romantic Mitchell…" Aubrey grabbed a tissue from the box on the table, using it to wipe her eyes, "It's going to be perfect."

"You think we can pull it off?" Beca asked.

"Look who you're talking to Beca." Aubrey raised an eyebrow, "There's nothing I can't organise."


"A quiet night in then?" Chloe asked, kissing her cheek.

"Pretty much." Beca grinned, butterflies in her stomach. The countdown was on.

The holidays rolled around quicker than either of them noticed. They spent Halloween at a small theatre in Brooklyn watching Chloe's brother in a production of Rocky Horror (seeing her brother in fishnets was… an experience). Chloe felt like the proudest sister in the world as she watched him play Frank N Furter, clearly having the time of his life. Beca took the three of them out for dinner after, chatting easily with him much to Chloe's relief. It was nice, it was normal… it was what Chloe didn't even know she wanted until they were sat eating burgers and laughing like it was something they did all the time.

"I can't believe you'd never seen Rocky Horror before!" Chloe shook her head as she teased her girlfriend.

"Oh c'mon, you know I'm not a movie person, this isn't a surprise!" Beca rolled her eyes as she ate her fries.

"You don't like movies? Like any movies?" Luke frowned, a bemused look on his face.

"No! It's weird right?" Chloe answered before Beca could as the brunette held up her hands defensively.

"Hey! Some people just don't like movies okay?" Beca cried as the Beale siblings laughed.

"It's okay honey, I don't mind. You're really pretty." Chloe grinned as she kissed Beca's check, the brunette rolling her eyes.

"What're you guys doing for Thanksgiving?" Luke asked, sensing a change of subject was needed before Beca imploded.

"We're gonna spend it with my folks in Atlanta." Beca smiled, arm around Chloe's shoulders, "Do you have plans?"

"Yeah, my roommates and I are doing a friend thing, it's going to be fun!" Luke grinned, no hint of sarcasm or anything else, clearly having inherited the Beale blinding optimism.

"I loved spending Thanksgiving with friends! We used to do something like that at Barden remember?" Chloe grinned as she turned to Beca.

"How could I forget? The Aca-Dictator turning up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning and dropping three bags of groceries into my arms as she breezed into the kitchen and turned Thanksgiving dinner into a military level operation. Although you did look cute in that apron…" Beca grinned, resting her head on Chloe's shoulder as the redhead blushed a little.

"Aca-Dictator?" Luke frowned as Beca laughed.

"It's Beca's nickname for our friend Aubrey, we were in this a cappella group together in college. Aubrey was captain during Beca's first year and they butted heads a little." Chloe rolled her eyes as Beca lifted her head.

"'This a cappella group'? Really?" Beca raised an eyebrow, "So dismissive… we're former Barden Bellas, we were three time consecutive ICCA champions and world champions by the time we graduated, and for three of those winning years we were co-captains. The Barden Bellas are currently on a three year winning streak, they're kind of legendary."

"Who'd have thought you'd be the one gushing over the Barden Bellas?" Chloe grinned as Beca blushed a little, giving her a playful shove.

"I just… I love our weird little family, I wouldn't have met you without the Bellas…" Beca mumbled, kissing Chloe's knuckle as Luke watched his little sister be blissfully happy.

"You're such a dork Beca Mitchell." Chloe tucked a lock of hair behind Beca's ear.

"You love that about me." Beca laughed as she rested her forehead against Chloe's.

Thanksgiving was also a picture of domestic bliss. Chloe loved spending time with Beca's parents, especially Ellie who was a fairly good indication of what Beca would be like in twenty years, and Beca was able to enjoy her parents being in the same room now that they'd reconciled their differences. Chloe woke up in Beca's arms on Thanksgiving morning, a happy and sleepy sigh leaving her lips as she lifted her head to look at her sleeping girlfriend. She gently twirled a lock of Beca's hair around finger as she watched the rise and fall of her chest.

Chloe was happy. Far sooner than she thought she'd be, Chloe Beale was happy. She was (as of next week) a Broadway choreographer having been approached by the Ambassador Theatre after she'd produced a critically raved about production of Chicago. She lived with her girlfriend in a nice apartment in Brooklyn. And that girlfriend? Well that was Beca Mitchell, senior music producer, former a cappella champion, and the most amazing person that she'd ever met.

"Are you watching me sleep weirdo?" Beca grumbled, pulling Chloe from her thoughts as she smiled warmly.

"Like you never watch me sleep?" Chloe gently poked Beca's stomach as the brunette frowned, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

"You don't have to be right all the time y'know." She grumbled, unable to help the smile that crept onto her lips as Chloe trailed kisses along her jaw.

"It just happens, what can I say? I'm a very smart lady." Chloe chuckled, her hand splayed across Beca's stomach as her lips moved up to connect with the brunette's.

Beca hummed softly as she kissed her back, hand on the back of Chloe's neck as she pulled her closer grinning as Chloe's tongue skated across her bottom lip before slipping into her mouth. The kiss was deep and passionate up until they had to break apart for air, stupid grins on their faces as they did so.

"Well good morning to you too." Beca mumbled, "You must love me a lot to kiss me before I've had chance to brush my teeth."

"What can I say, I just find you irresistible…" Chloe chuckled as she curled in closer to Beca's side, her leg hooked over Beca's.

They just lay in each other's arms for a little while, not needing words, only each other. It was Beca who eventually broke the blissful moment, kissing the top of Chloe's head as she moved from underneath her.

"I'm gonna go pee and then get us some coffee." Beca said as Chloe grumbled about being in the bed alone.

"Okay fine…" Chloe sighed dramatically as Beca rolled her eyes, pulling on a hoody over her t-shirt and ran a hand through her sleep tousled hair.

"I'll be back in a few minutes, you'll survive." Beca chuckled as she left her bedroom.

Once in the kitchen she found her mom, dad and Sheila sat around the kitchen island, all with mugs of coffee.

"Morning sleepy head!" Ellie grinned as she sipped her coffee, a bemused look on her face as she wiggled an eyebrow at her.

Beca just rolled her eyes, grabbing the coffee pot and pouring two mugs before adding cream to Chloe's and sugar to both. As she turned around again, she found all three adults looking at her with huge grins.

"What?" Beca asked, "You guys are creeping me out…"

"Nothin'" Ellie was still grinning widely as she clasped her hands round her mug, "We were just talking about how cute you guys are."

Beca rolled her eyes again as Hank sipped his coffee before saying: "We were just wondering if there were any… questions that you were gonna ask anytime soon?"

Beca's head whipped round to make sure Chloe wasn't hiding on the stairs as she shushed them, a blush spreading across her cheeks, "God can you guys just be cool for like five minutes?" She hissed, setting the mugs down as she sat at the kitchen island with them.

"That's a yes then?" Ellie beamed, leaning in close as she lowered her voice, Hank and Sheila also leaning in close as Beca shook her head, unable to keep the grin from spreading across her face.

"Yes it is." Beca bit her lip a little, "New Years Eve, I've got it all planned out."

"Oh my god!" Sheila squealed, "Beca that's so exciting!"

"Come on, spill it, how're you gonna do it?" Ellie was unable to keep the grin of her face as she held her mug tighter.

"Okay…" Beca looked over her shoulder again to make sure Chloe wasn't there before lowering her voice to a whisper, "So…"

The low level excitement over Thanksgiving dinner went largely unnoticed by Chloe who was just content spending time with Beca and her family as well as taking a well-deserved break from her job. It was nice to be able to put her feet up, and to have such an easy holiday period compared to the last couple of years.

"So Chloe, what's new?" Hank asked with a warm smile as they sat around the dinner table.

"I uh, I got offered a job as in-house choreographer for the Ambassador Theatre." Chloe grinned as Beca gave her hand a proud squeeze.

"That's Broadway right?" Sheila beamed, "Chloe that's huge!"

"Yeah it is." Beca was so proud that she thought she would burst, "After the critics raved about her work for that production of Chicago, there were theatres all over New York falling over each other to hire her."

"Becs…" Chloe blushed, "I start next week, it's a production of The King and I which I loved when I was little."

"It's one of my favourites!" Hank smiled warmly, "You'll have to let us know when the performance is running so that we can come and see it."

"That'd be great." Chloe beamed, "I might even be able to get you tickets…"

"Beca have I ever complimented you on your taste in women?" Ellie smirked as Beca rolled her eyes.

It was coming up to Christmas before they knew it, and Beca had something special in mind. The last two Christmases had been awful; between Portland and Chloe's breakdown there had been nothing much to celebrate. This year, Beca was determined to remind Chloe that Christmas was a happy time.

She kept her plans to herself until the day before Christmas Eve, waiting eagerly for Chloe to get home. Beca stood next to the bed looking smugly at her packed suitcase and the one that she'd packed for Chloe next to it. She really should keep up this organised thing, it definitely made her life easier. The sound of the key scraping in the lock made Beca spin round, a huge grin on her face as Chloe entered the apartment.

"Hey!" Beca beamed as Chloe yawned, sleepily rubbing her eye.

"Hey." Chloe smiled sleepily, holding her arms out for a hug, "I'm sleepy."

Beca went and hugged Chloe close, the redhead slumping a little as she sighed happily in Beca's embrace, "Long day baby?" Beca asked.

"Uh huh." Chloe snuggled into Beca's neck, "S'good though."

"I'm glad." Beca turned her head so she could kiss Chloe's forehead. Chloe lifted her head, frowning a little as she saw the packed bags on the bed.

"Beca… are you leaving me?" Chloe asked, half joking as she pulled back.

"Oh god no!" Beca shook her head with a grin, "Never Chlo. I have a surprise for you."

"Oh? Does it involve me doing loads of stuff? Because I may need a nap first…" Chloe smiled, anxiety eased as she looked at the excitement in Beca's eyes.

"It doesn't honey, don't worry." Beca giggled, "We're going to have a Bella Christmas, all of us together, one big family celebration."

"What? Really?" Chloe beamed, suddenly wide awake as her eyes sparkled the way they always did when she was really excited about something.

"Yep." Beca grinned, "Stacie's house sitting for her folks whilst they're in Aspen for Christmas, which might be the fanciest thing I have ever said, but it means that Conrad Mansion is free for the holidays, with plenty of space for all of us."

"It's going to be amazing!" Chloe was practically bouncing up and down with excitement at this point, "When do we leave?"

"In two hours. Stacie's sending a car, it's all very fancy." Beca raised an eyebrow as Chloe giggled.

"I should pack!" Chloe panicked, suddenly realising she was wholly unprepared for the holiday.

"Already done." Beca caught Chloe as she went to rush to the nightstand, "I took today off to pack for us both, we're all ready to go."

Chloe looked at Beca in wonder, a tear slipping down her cheek as she cupped Beca's cheek, "You did all of this for me?"

Beca shrugged, a dumb grin on her face, "I know the last few Christmases have been crap, I just wanted you to have a nice one for a change."

"I love you." Chloe whispered as she leant in and kissed her, "You are the best person in the whole world."

Beca just kissed her back, the two of them sharing a deep kiss, Chloe's hand on the back of Beca's neck, Beca's hands on Chloe's hips.

"I love you too." Beca said as the kiss ended, tucking a lock of hair behind Chloe's ear, "You deserve to have a good Christmas Chloe."

"Any Christmas I have you is the best Christmas ever." Chloe grinned.

"Dork." Beca teased her.

"Weirdo." Chloe responded, kissing her quickly.

Three hours later, Chloe and Beca stared out of the window of the town car in wonder as they pulled up outside of the biggest house either of them had ever seen, more akin to something from a Disney movie than an actual place where people lived.

"Holy crap…" Beca whispered, "I knew Stacie's parents were well off, but this is insane…"

"Right?" Chloe grinned as the car pulled to a stop, "It's huge! I don't think people will be arguing over sleeping arrangements here…"

Beca laughed as the car door was opened for them (the fanciness of the situation was enough to make Beca's head spin), the brunette going to collect their bags from the trunk, feeling weird about letting anyone else do it for her. She quickly joined Chloe who went to take a suitcase from her but Beca pulled away.

"Nope, I got this. You go grab the door." Beca grinned as she moved her head in the direction of the front door.

"So strong." Chloe giggled, pressing a quick kiss to Beca's lips before going to the front door, "Hello?" She called as she opened the door.

"Hey Chlo!" Stacie beamed, "I'm so glad you guys made it!"

Beca pulled the suitcases through the door as Stacie wrapped Chloe in a warm hug, "Hey Conrad, nice castle!" She smirked as Stacie rolled her eyes.

"Not surprised it looks like a castle to you short stack, you make a dollhouse look like a real house!" Stacie raised an eyebrow as Beca looked outraged, Chloe leaning into kiss Beca's cheek as she giggled helplessly.

"C'mon, the others are in the lounge, they're all dying to see you guys." Stacie led them through the long entrance hallway, Beca and Chloe hand in hand as they entered the room to be greeted by the smiling faces of their family.

"Hey, Bhloe finally got here!" Amy cheered as everyone got up to wrap the two women in warm hugs, "How are you guys the last to arrive when you live this close?"

"I didn't tell Chloe about it until a few hours ago, I wanted it to be a surprise." Beca had a lazy grin on her face as she and Chloe took a seat on one of the sofas that was carefully set up in front of a roaring fire, "Had to wait for her to finish being a big Broadway hotshot for the holidays first."

Chloe rolled her eyes as she rested her head on Beca's shoulder, "Hotshot is an exaggeration Becs, but I am having a great time. Besides, Benji's the star of the show I'm just the choreographer!"

Benji blushed as Emily beamed at him proudly, "There's no such thing as just a choreographer Chlo, the show would fall apart without you."

"Alright, enough shop talk for the holiday thank you." Aubrey had her arm around Stacie's waist, an easy smile on her lips, "I've got the next two days all planned out, and I figured you guys could have the 26th to yourselves, sleep in and all that."

"Anyone else having flashbacks to Barden?" Cynthia-Rose mumbled.

"Yeah I'm half expecting her to roll out a white board with a flowchart on…" Amy grimaced as Aubrey rolled her eyes.

"I just want to make sure we spend some quality time together, because otherwise some people will just sleep through the whole holiday." Aubrey gave Amy a pointed look, the Australian holding up her hands defensively.

"It's going to be great Bree." Chloe beamed, "But it starts tomorrow right? Because I'm exhausted…"

"I made sure that she stuck to planning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, don't worry." Stacie kissed her wife's cheek, "Tonight, it's just relaxing after a long week. Bella's already in bed because it's late, but she's very excited to spend Christmas with you guys."

"Does that mean we get to leave cookies and milk for Santa?" Emily was like a little kid as her eyes glittered with child-like excitement, "I haven't done that since I was a kid!"

"So… last year?" Beca asked, eyebrow raised as she teased the youngest Bella.

"Be nice Becs!" Chloe slapped her arm playfully, "You don't wanna end up on the naughty list this close to Christmas."

"Really?" Beca turned to Chloe with a wicked smirk, eyebrow raised even higher, "You sure you don't want me to be naughty?"

"Ew gross!" Amy pulled a face as Chloe went a deep shade of red, kissing Beca a little as she shook her head, "Get a room you guys."

"Am I naughty babe?" Jessica asked turning to look at her wife who grinned broadly.

"No sweetie, you're sugar and spice and all things nice." Ashley chuckled, "It's one of the many reasons I love you."

"Aw…" Jessica's grin matched Ashley as she kissed her, Amy miming dry heaving at the display.

"So you've all got your own rooms." Aubrey quickly changed the subject, a deep shade of red in her cheeks after Stacie had whispered something about showing her just how naughty she could be in her ear unnoticed by the other Bellas, "I uh, I drew up this floor plan so you can find your rooms easily, and all the couples have the rooms with the en suites to try and keep the main bathroom streamlined."

Stacie handed out the floor plans that Aubrey had created with a proud smile. She loved this side of her wife. The Bellas got to their feet, deciding to retire for the night after a long week. Beca had dragged hers and Chloe's bags to their room without a second thought, gasping in wonder as she the room that they'd been given. It was huge, arguable almost as big as the main room of their studio apartment, with its own fireplace with a chaise lounge in front of it, a four poster king sized bed in the middle of the room adorned with pillows and blankets and an oak dresser large enough for a small family to use. Through a door on the far side of the bed was a bathroom with a bathtub that would easily fit at least half of the Bella in comfortably, even the toilet seeming like the fanciest thing in existence.

"Oh my god…" Chloe whispered as she stood behind Beca, "Look at this room…"

"You guys like it then?" Stacie grinned, making both of them jump.

"Stace, it's… it's gorgeous." Chloe shook her head in disbelief, Beca just speechless as she looked around her.

"Yeah, it's the nicest room in house. It's an early Christmas present from me and Bree, we figured you guys deserved a little bit of luxury at this time of year after everything that's happened." Stacie leant against the doorway as she watched her friends stand there gob smacked.

"Stace…" Beca smiled softly, "This is… it's too much."

"No it's not Mitchell. It's what you deserve. Now get some rest you two, Aubrey has gone full Captain Posen for Christmas so you're gonna need it!" She winked at them as she shut the door, leaving Beca and Chloe in their decedent room.

"I can't believe she gave us this room…" Beca whispered, looking around with a stupid grin on her face.

"It's so romantic…" Chloe breathed, wrapping her arms around Beca's waist from behind with a happy sigh.

Beca turned in her arms and draped her arms around Chloe's neck, leaning in close as she smiled happily, "It kind of is isn't it?"

"Wanna go try out that bath? Together?" Chloe raised an eyebrow as she pressed a soft kiss to Beca's lips, "I can wash your hair?"

"God that sounds amazing…" Beca breathed, mentally noting how huge a step this was and how far away this already was from the last two years.

"C'mon on then, I think I saw one of those bath stuff gift baskets in there, I bet it's all super fancy stuff." Chloe grinned, pulling Beca through to the bathroom.

Chloe and Beca were awoken on Christmas Eve by a polite but firm knock on the door. Beca groaned as she stirred, preferring to stay in Chloe's arms then go and see whoever was at the door.

"I can hear you groaning Beca, if you don't answer the door I'm gonna come in anyway!" Aubrey's voice came from the other side of the door and Beca had enough experience with the blonde to know she meant it.

"Alright, I'm coming, jeez…" Beca grumbled as she reluctantly untangled herself from Chloe's arms, the redhead waking as she did so, frowning as she watched Beca shrug on a hoody and head to the door.

"Good morning." Aubrey raised an eyebrow as she looked at the dishevelled (and pantless) brunette, "You guys sleep well then?"

"Shut up." Beca rolled her eyes but was unable to keep the smirk of her face, "Is that coffee for us?" She asked as she nodded to the mugs in Aubrey's hands.

"Yes. You guys have an hour to get up, change and drink this before you have to be in the kitchen down stairs okay?" Aubrey held them out for Beca to take, smiling warmly.

"Aye aye cap'in!" Beca gave her a little salute before she took the mugs from her, Aubrey simply rolling her eyes.

"I'll see you guys in an hour." Aubrey shut the door for Beca who now had her hands full.

Beca turned and headed back to the bed, handing Chloe a coffee. The redhead was now sat up, propped up by the soft pillows, covered in a blanket and smiling sleepily as Beca got in next to her, letting her head rest on Chloe's bare shoulder as she let out a happy sigh.

"She's gone full Captain Posen hasn't she?" Beca chuckled.

"Oh yeah!" Chloe laughed, "Although it still feels far less stressful then ICCA prep…"

"Nothing will be as stressful as ICCA prep with Aubrey Posen." Beca raised an eyebrow as she sipped her coffee.

There was a moment of contented silence as they had their coffee, the couple just enjoying a quiet moment to soak in their happiness. Neither of them had to say it, they just knew it, knew that a tiny part of them was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for something to go wrong. But even though the idea was niggling at them, it was almost drowned out by the overwhelming happiness that they both felt as they sat there on a quiet Christmas Eve morning.

"Alright…" Chloe smiled softly as she turned her head to look at Beca half an hour later, unable to not smile as she looked at her girlfriend's sleepy expression, "We should start getting ready, better to be early for Aubrey than on the last minute."

"You don't have to tell me that…" Beca mumbled, smirking as she met Chloe's gaze, "I have been on that bull's horns more times than I care to count."

"Well it wouldn't have happened anywhere near as much if you'd set an alarm every once in a while…" Chloe teased, kissing Beca softly as the brunette scoffed.

"You're so mean to me…" Beca pouted as she pulled back from the kiss, Chloe rolling her eyes.

"That's not what you said last night." Chloe raised an eyebrow as Beca blushed furiously.

"I- shut up…"Beca hid her grin and her blush behind her coffee mug as Chloe moved to get out of bed, "No… where are you going?" She wined, pulling a face.

"Getting dressed!" Chloe grinned as she ran a hand through her hair, standing butt ass naked in the middle of the room, looking over her shoulder as she felt Beca's gaze run up and down her form, "Don't look at me like that… we'll never get downstairs if you keep looking at me like that."

Beca licked her dry lips as she felt her heart pound a little, "What can I say? Have you seen you?"

Chloe giggled a little as she blushed, throwing Beca one of her jumpers, "Put that on instead. That way you can spend the day smelling like me, and I can melt over how cute you are."

Beca frowned, "I'm not cute."

"You don't want my jumper then?" Chloe raised an eyebrow as she pulled a set of clothes for herself out of the suitcase.

"I didn't say that." Beca responded quickly, holding the jumper closer to her chest.

"Just get ready." Chloe laughed as she rolled her eyes.

Beca and Chloe by some miracle were in the kitchen ten minutes before they had to be, Aubrey smiling approvingly as she passed them the coffee pot.

"First ones down… maybe my years of nagging did pay off…" Aubrey mused as Beca and Chloe each took a seat at the kitchen island, Beca pouring both of them another cup of coffee.

"Sure, that's what it is." Beca smirked, "It's not that we're all terrified of you."

Aubrey rolled her eyes, about to respond with something snarky, but was interrupted by the arrival of her daughter and her wife.

"Auntie Beca, Auntie Chloe, you're here!" Bella exclaimed, racing into the kitchen with Stacie not far behind.

"Hey kiddo!" Beca grinned as she picked up her niece, "You've gotten so tall!"

"Momma says I'm gonna be as tall as her someday!" Bella grinned broadly in the short brunette's arms, green eyes twinkling just like Stacie's.

"Great…" Beca mumbled, "Just what I need, another member of this family to tower over me."

"It's not our fault you're a literal elf!" Stacie grinned as she poured herself a coffee, kissing Aubrey as she did so.

"You are?!" Bella exclaimed, eyes wide with wonder before Beca could bite anything back in response as she glared at Stacie, caught off guard for a moment.

"She sure is!" Chloe beamed as she kissed Beca's cheek, "So you have to be extra good when Beca's around okay? Otherwise Santa will know."

"And you have to keep it a secret." Beca hastily added. The last thing she needed was Bella running around the house yelling about her being an elf, she’d never live it down, "It's super top secret, only your mom's and Aunty Chloe know okay?"

Bella nodded enthusiastically, Chloe feeling her heart swell three sizes as she watched Beca with the young girl. Beca had never been one for kids, but watching her with Bella it was clear she was a natural. The other Bellas arrived gradually, and with the exception of (to absolutely no-one’s surprise) Amy, everybody was in the kitchen at the time that Aubrey had requested. When Amy finally had the decency to join them in the kitchen (twenty minutes late, Aubrey’s eyelid twitching with every passing minute), the Bellas matriarch smiled warmly, filling them in on the plan for the day.

“So, this morning we thought we’d let Bella pick what we did and she wanted us to do some baking all together, decorate sugar cookies, that sort of thing. This afternoon, after lunch, we’re going to do the food prep for tomorrow so that there’s no stress, and then tonight after we’ve put the milk and cookies out for Santa obviously, the grown ups are going to have a little karaoke night like we used to in college.” Aubrey stroked Bella’s hair as her daughter bounced happily next to her, brimming with excitement for the days activities, as the Bellas all shared grins of approval.

It had been a long time since the Bellas had all baked together like this, and it was as chaotic as it had been in college. Before very long there was flour on every conceivable surface as well as in Bella’s hair, and on several of the adults faces (Amy was at fault for yelling ‘flour fight!’ but it was a little concerning that something so simple was all it took to get adults with serious careers to start chucking flour at each other). 

“Hey, can we make gingerbread?” Beca asked, flour on the end of her nose and across one of her cheeks, “My mom always makes it at Christmas and Chloe has the recipe for it?” 

“Oh I do, it’s in my suitcase, I packed it just in case!” Chloe grinned, flour on both cheeks and her jumper.

“What do you think Head Chef?” Stacie turned to her daughter who’d been put ‘in charge’ of all baking activities and it became evident very quickly that she took after Aubrey in the leadership department.

“Hm…” Bella paused thoughtfully, “I like gingerbread!”

“Sounds like a yes to me!” Aubrey grinned, wiping some of the flour from her daughter’s forehead before planting a kiss there.

“I’ll go grab the recipe.” Chloe kissed Beca’s flour free cheek as she headed out of the kitchen. Beca looked over her shoulder to make sure the redhead was gone before she turned to the Bellas.

“Are you guys still going to be available for a rehearsal on the thirtieth?” She asked, voice low just in case Chloe was still nearby.

“Hell yeah!” Emily exclaimed.

“Just try and stop us.” Cynthia-Rose smirked.

“I can’t believe you guys are finally getting engaged…” Jessica smiled, eyes a little glassy.

“Look she hasn’t said yes yet, she might not, but all I can do is ask.” Beca half-smiled, shrugging a little as she diverted her attention to the sugar cookie dough she was mixing together.

The Bellas all shared a look. None of them wanted to get Beca’s hopes up on the slight chance they were wrong, but all of them knew what the answer would be when the question was asked. 

“It’s a really beautiful idea Beca.” Ashley smiled softly.

“Yeah who knew you were such a romantic Shawshank?” Amy raised an eyebrow

Beca rolled her eyes, going to say something but stopping as she heard Chloe re-enter the kitchen.

“I got it!” Chloe smiled, blissfully unaware of the conversation that had just taken place, “Bella do you wanna help me make the gingerbread?”

“Yeah!” Bella grinned as she bounded over to where Chloe was assembling ingredients.

The rest of the day passed by in a haze of baking, cooking, and laughter, a scene straight out of a Christmas card. Chloe had taken a step back at one point to watch the scene unfold: the Bellas, her family, laughing and joking as they worked in a unison that only came from years of knowing and a deep understanding of each other; Aubrey, her best friend, the sister she never had tidying up after her daughter who was haphazardly leaving stuff all over the kitchen, imploring her wife to help as she simply laughed at their daughter; and Beca, her girlfriend, the reason she got up in the morning carefully piping icing the sugar cookies that had been baked and cooled, tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth as she frowned in concentration. This was all Chloe had ever wanted, a happy family, people who loved her and who she could be herself around. It had taken a very long time, a lot of pain and hearbreak and fear, but here Chloe Beale stood, happy.

Aubrey quietly stepped next to her friend, a hand on the small of her back as she frowned softly, “Are you okay Chlo?” She whispered.

Chloe realised she’d started crying, sniffing slightly as she wiped the tears from her cheeks, “I’m happy.” She looked at Aubrey, laughing a little at the absurdity of her tears, “It sounds stupid, but I’m really happy Bree.”

“Oh Chloe…” Aubrey grinned as she pulled her into a hug, “It’s not stupid, not at all. I’m so glad you’re happy, it’s all I want for you.” She caught Beca’s eye as she pulled Chloe close, subtly gesturing for her to put the piping bag down and come and hold her girlfriend.

Beca frowned as she slipped her arms around Chloe, Aubrey moving out of the way, “Honey what’s wrong?” Beca asked, a worried look on her face.

“Nothing.” Chloe grinned, still trying to stop crying, “That’s the stupid thing. Everything is perfect and I’m so happy, but I’m crying.”

Beca cupped Chloe’s cheek with her left hand, a soft smile on her face, “It’s okay baby. It’s normal to get this flood of emotion.”

“I really am happy Beca. Thank you for this.” Chloe kissed the palm of Beca’s hand, knowing that she’d never be able to put into words just how much this all meant to her.

“It wasn’t all me.” Beca was never one to have all the attention focused on her, even now, “But I’m so glad you’re happy. I did get you other things for Christmas, but this is what I wanted to give you the most. Happiness, and a great Christmas.”

“I love you.” Chloe leant in and kissed Beca, leading to wolf whistles from the other Bellas that went ignored.

“Oi, you two! Don’t think that because you’re in love you can get away with not helping with the clean up!” Amy yelled as the two broke apart, Beca rolling her eyes.

Later, once they’d eaten pizza and put Bella to bed (after setting out milk and cookies for Santa obviously) Aubrey emerged with a tray of drinks, handing them out to the Bellas, having one clearly set aside for Beca to make sure it wasn’t confused with the alcoholic ones. Handing them out, she then settled next to her wife who had hooked up a karaoke machine to the huge tv.

“Alright, who’s going first?” Aubrey asked, smiling at her family.

“We will!” Ashley tugged Jessica to her feet as the blonde giggled, the two of them setting their drinks down on the nearby side table and grabbing the two microphones, Jessica keying in the song.

“Hey I thought it was a song each!” Amy cried, grabbing a handful of popcorn.

“Leave them alone.” Flo laughed, “They’re in love, let them duet.”

“I really can’t stay.” Jessica started, free hand in Ashley’s.

“Baby it’s cold outside.” Ashley responded, wide grin on her face. Baby It’s Cold Outside was their Christmas karaoke tradition, they even sang it as they made Christmas dinner for their parents. They concluded the song in perfect unison, a well rehearsed dance, the Bellas clapping and whooping as they did so (Bella was on the far side of the house so there was very minimal chance of them waking her up in such a huge house).

“You guys are always so good!” Flo beamed.

“Yeah, why weren’t you guys like that when we were in college?” Amy asked, eyebrow raised.

“We were!” Ashley and Jessica answered in unison, sounding a little exasperated as the other Bellas laughed.

“Me next!” Emily beamed, kissing Benji before she stood up, picking up the mic as the musical intro started, “I’m driving home for Christmas/ I can’t wait to see those faces.”

Benji was by far the loudest of the assembled group when Emily finished, brimming with pride for his fiancee. Emily giggled as he swept her off the makeshift stage into his arms, Amy huffing loudly and rolling her eyes.

“That is the reason you’re going to be the number one artist at Twilight Records in January when your album drops.” Beca grinned as Emily blushed. 

“Thanks Beca, you really think so?” Emily smiled softly.

“Oh yeah.” Beca nodded, “And let’s face it, you got the best agent in the business.” Beca winked in the awkward way that she always did as Emily laughed.

“Alright ladies, time for a bit of Mariah!” Cynthia-Rose was grinning from ear to ear as she got up.

“Let me just grab another beer!” Stacie got up quickly, “Anyone else want anything?”

There were a couple of drink order, Stacie returning promptly with them and sitting back down as Cynthia-Rose started to sing “I don’t want a lot for Christmas/There is just one thing I need.”

All the Bellas would gladly admit that they didn’t have same vocal capabilities as Cynthia-Rose, loud cheers and whistles coming from them as she bowed.

“Thank you. Thank you.” Cynthia-Rose grinned, high fiving Beca as she went to sit down again, Benji getting to his feet with a grin on his face as he finally settled on what he wanted to do.

“I’ll be home for Christmas/ You can plan on me/ Please have snow and mistletoe/ And presents by the tree.” Benji sang, smiling at his future wife as he did so. It was easy to forget that Benji had an incredible talent, what with him being a former Treble Maker and all, but sitting and listening to his talented voice made them realise that he was definitely the perfect fit for their little family.

“You’re so talented baby.” Emily grinned as she kissed him once he’d finished.

“Not as talented as you gorgeous.” He responded, kissing her softly.

“Oh god someone else go before I barf.” Amy pulled a face.

“Hold my beer Chlo.” Stacie passed Chloe the bottle as she got up, a wicked grin on her face, Aubrey feeling her stomach tighten a little. She knew that look. And she knew the song that was starting to play.

“Oh god…” She whispered, a blush creeping onto her cheeks.

“Santa baby.” Stacie raised an eyebrow, smirking as she locked eyes with her blushing wife, “Just slip a Sable under the tree for me/ Been an awful good girl/ Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.” 

Stacie stepped out from behind the karaoke machine, slowly and deliberately, exaggerating every movement of her long legs, running her free hand through her hair: “Santa baby, a 54’ convertible too, light blue/ I’ll wait up for you, dear/ Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Stacie was now stood in front of Aubrey who swallowed loudly, her cheeks a deep shade of red. Stacie skillfully and seductively dropped into her wife’s lap, leaning back against her, forehead pressed against Aubrey’s temple so her lips were mere centimetres away from her face even with the microphone in one hand: “Think of all the fun I’ve missed/ Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed/ Next year I could be just as good/ If you check off my Christmas list.”

The tall brunette jumped to her feet again but not before grinding in Aubrey’s lap a little, fingers of her free hand trailing along Aubrey’s jaw as she got up, “Santa baby, I want a yacht, and really, that’s not a lot/ Been an angel all year/ Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Stacie had her back to her wife as she flicked her hair, looking over her shoulder at the blushing blonde who was trying her best to hide a grin, eyebrow raised, smirk on her lips as she slowly and purposefully turned on her heel. “Santa honey one little thing I really need/ The deed to a platinum mine/ Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.” 

The brunette stood in front of her wife, the pair of them unable to hear the whoops and cat calls of their friends as they were totally absorbed in their own bubble, Aubrey biting her bottom lip a little as she was unable to hide the grin anymore. Stacie bent over, free hand resting on the arm of the chair that Aubrey was sitting in, low cut top giving her wife a perfect view of the twins, “Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex and cheques/ Sign your ‘x’ on the line/ Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Stacie was now straddling her wife, moving her brunette hair out of her face with her free hand, grinning as she felt Aubrey squirm a little with arousal underneath her, chest flushed, mouth hanging open a little. She twirled a lock of Aubrey’s hair around her finger, her face a mere inch from Aubrey’s, “Come and trim my Christmas tree/ With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s/ I really do believe in you/ Let’s see if you believe in me.”

Aubrey’s hands settled on Stacie’s hips, unable to take her eyes off hers as Stacie ground her hips into her lap. The brunette ran a hand through Aubrey’s hair, biting her lip a little before launching into the next verse, “Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing/ A ring, I don’t mean on the phone/ Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

“Hurry down the chimney tonight.” Stacie’s hand slid to the back of Aubrey’s neck, “Hurry, tonight.” She finished the song, stretching out her arm to drop the mic dramatically as she pulled her wife into a deep kiss, the Bellas laughing and cheering as she did so. 

“Yeah I’m not following that!” Beca laughed, an eyebrow raised as she finished off the last of her soda.

Chloe got up, wine glass in one hand the other stroking Beca’s hair, “Want another drink?” She asked as she smiled at her.

“Yeah, that’d be great thanks.” Beca beamed, handing her the glass she had emptied.

“I’ll try and separate the randy twins whilst you do that.” Cynthia-Rose nodded her head towards Aubrey and Stacie who were still wrapped in each other.

When Chloe returned with a drink for her and Beca, Aubrey and Stacie were now sat next to each other, Aubrey’s hand resting on Stacie’s thigh as both still wore wicked grins. Amy was standing at the karaoke machine, loading a song, the short brunette hiding a wince as she had her back turned to Amy. In chorus with the rest of the Bellas, Amy was great. Solo? Well that was hit and miss…

“Silent night, Holy night…” Amy started, singing operatically as the Bellas collectively swallowed hard, eyes wide as they forced grins onto their faces. It was official, this one was a miss. They cheered and clapped with as much enthusiasm as they had for everyone else that had gone before the Australian as she finished. She might have been terrible but she was still family.

“Beca next!” Chloe grinned, getting to her feet again as she tugged Beca to the karaoke machine, “And I’m picking the song.”

“Oh no…” Beca pulled a face as Chloe stood her in front of the karaoke machine, pressing the mic into her hand as she queued up the song, kissing her cheek. The brunette rolled her eyes heavily as she realised what the song was, “Really?”

“Uh huh.” Chloe nodded, a wide grin on her face as she sipped her drink.

“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus lane.” Beca sang in a rather lacklustre way as the Bellas laughed.

“Oh come on Beca, you can do better than that!” Aubrey smirked, an eyebrow raised.

Beca rolled her eyes heavily as she inserted more enthusiasm into her performance, “Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer, pulling on the reins.”

“That’s more like it Mitchell!” Cynthia-Rose cheered.

“Bells are ringing, children singing, all is merry and bright.” Beca was getting more and more into the performance despite the cheesiness of the song, a smile creeping onto her face. By the time she finished, the brunette was completely immersed in the song, grinning broadly as she danced a little, the Bellas all cheering wildly as she finished.

“See, I have great taste in songs!” Chloe beamed as Beca flopped down next to her, taking her soda from her girlfriend as she did.

“You’re such a dork.” Beca chuckled as she kissed her.

“My turn!” Flo got up quickly, all the Bellas grinning as they heard her song choice, “Feliz Navidad/ Feliz Navidad/ Feliz Navidad/ Prospero ano y felicidad.” It was Flo’s choice every year that they had karaoke, and it was always a huge hit. The Bellas cheered loudly when she was done Flo blushing a little as she sat down again, sipping her drink, “I always like that one. Reminds me of home.”

“Do you miss your family?” Stacie asked with a soft sympathetic smile.

“Of course. But I have you guys, you’re my family too!” Flo grinned widely.

There were murmurs of agreement and wide grins from the Bellas as Emily (who was sat between Flo and Benji) wound her long arms around her and hugged her tightly, head on her shoulder. It was then that they realised that Lilly had taken her turn whilst they’d been talking, for some reason the music being as quiet as she was. Lilly rolled her eyes as the Bellas apologised, mumbling something that sounded like “Rudolph” as she sat down again, downing her beer in one quick motion.

Aubrey stood up, walking over to the karaoke machine as Amy groaned loudly, “Please don’t tell me we’re going to get a repeat of the dry humping from earlier?” Amy sighed dramatically.

Aubrey gave her a look as she picked up the mic, deciding against the biting comment as the music started, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas/ Just like the one’s I used to know/ Please send snow and mistletoe/ And presents under the tree.” 

Stacie grinned broadly at her wife as she sang. There were was nothing in this world quite like Aubrey Posen’s voice when she sang, and every time she  heard it Stacie couldn’t quite believe that of all the people Aubrey could have had she had picked her. The Bellas cheered and clapped as Aubrey sat next to her wife again, Stacie wrapping her arms around her and kissing her head.

“That was beautiful baby.” She grinned.

“Thank you.” Aubrey beamed, head turning to look at Chloe, “Alright Beale, you’re up.”

Chloe grinned as she set down her drink, kissing Beca’s cheek as she stood up, knowing exactly what she wanted to sing. She’d heard Beca humming it every year, and it felt like the perfect song for that moment. She watched Beca grin as she recognised the music and winked at her before she started to sing, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/ Let your heart be light/ From now on/ Our troubles will be out of sight.”

Chloe locked eyes with Beca, tears welling in the short brunette’s eyes as she heard the sincerity in Chloe’s voice as she sang, a soft smile on her face. The redhead continued to sing to Beca as if they were the only people in the room, “Here we are as in olden days/ Happy golden days of yore/ Faithful friends who are dear to us/ Gather near to us once more.” 

By the time she was finished there was not a dry eye in the room, all of them knowing that Chloe meant every word of the song as if it had been written for that exact moment. There was clapping and cheering as she finished, Beca getting up from her seat as Chloe stepped off the makeshift stage and into her girlfriend’s arms. Beca gave Chloe a watery smile as she tucked Chloe’s hair behind her ear.

“I love you Chloe.” Was all Beca could think to say at that moment as Chloe rested her forehead against hers.

“I love you too.” Chloe mumbled before she kissed her, the Bellas wolf-whistling as she did so.

“Alright, that’s it, I’m out. I’ve taken about as much as this love fest as I can.” Amy shook her head as she got to her feet, Beca laughing as she rested her head on Chloe’s shoulders, content in her arms.

“We might head up too. I’m tired.” Beca smiled sleepily as Chloe nodded.

“It’ll be an early start tomorrow so we’d all better head up. We’re not college students anymore, we can’t stay up that late.” Aubrey laughed softly as she and Stacie got up too.

The Bellas headed to their rooms, bidding each other fond goodnights as they did so. Stacie and Aubrey quietly checked on their daughter who was sleeping soundly, before heading into the bedroom. Stacie pulled Aubrey into her arms, smiling as the blonde rested her hands on the back of her neck.

“I do not have the same alcohol tolerance I did in my early twenties…” Stacie mused, “I used to be able to drink three beers and then go out all night, but now? All I want to do is go to bed.”

“Welcome to old age Stace.” Aubrey laughed, “You can’t drink like you used to and you have to pay taxes, it’s really fun.”

Stacie giggled as she kissed Aubrey softly, “I guess I’m just trying to distract myself from the uncertainty…” Her hands trailed up from Aubrey’s hips to rest on her stomach, “I hate waiting to find out.”

“I know.” Aubrey whispered, a soft smile on her lips, “But it was like this with Bella. We have to wait two weeks before we can go back and get an accurate pregnancy test. Waiting sucks, but it'll be so worth it.”

“I know.” Stacie grinned, “And I’m excited. Unreasonably so. But I’m also very impatient, you know this.”

Aubrey giggled, “I do know it. We got married the week after I proposed. You whisked me away to Vegas and we were married by an Elvis impersonator. It was the greatest night of my life.”

“Do you ever regret it? Not having the big Southern wedding with all our friends and family?” Stacie asked, running a hand through Aubrey’s hair.

“No.” Aubrey answered sincerely, “I love your impulsivity. I love that you couldn’t wait any longer to be my wife. I love that you wanted our life to start straight away, no waiting.”

“I have never been more certain about anything then I was, then I  am about you and how much I need you.” Stacie kissed her deeply, Aubrey almost melting in her arms as she did so. No-one had ever made Aubrey feel this way, made her feel as safe and as loved in one single act.

“Come to bed.” Aubrey breathed as the kiss ended, “Let’s see if we can make a baby.”

Stacie laughed as Aubrey pulled her to the bed with a ridiculous grin on her face, “Merry Christmas to me.” She chuckled as she tugged off her jumper.

The rest of Christmas with the Bellas was just as blissful and romantic. Chloe basked in the warmth of her family, in the way that Bella had bounced around the house on Christmas morning and ripped into her presents with innocent enthusiasm, in the way that Beca had held her hand through Christmas dinner with a happy grin on her face. It was the Christmas she had always wanted. Almost a week later, the night before New Years Eve, Chloe woke up in Beca’s arms in the same way she had every morning since she’d quit vet school. She smiled softly, taking a moment to enjoy the quiet of their apartment and the feel of Beca’s arms around her waist before she had to get up and go to work. As she heard her alarm go off, she kissed Beca’s lips, the frown that Beca had as she woke to an alarm blaring quickly replaced with a grin as she returned the kiss.

“Hm you are far better to wake up to than an alarm clock.” Beca mused, stroking Chloe’s cheek as she pulled back.

“Don’t you forget it.” Chloe grinned as nuzzled her face against Beca’s hand, “I love my job, but I really wish I didn’t have to go back to work today… I’d much rather stay here with you.”

“I know. Me too.” Beca smiled sleepily, “But I’ve got to go to the studio for a few hours today.”

“I thought you were off work until after New Years?” Chloe frowned, hand resting on Beca’s stomach.

“Yeah but they’re behind with some of the stuff for Em’s album so I’m gonna go in and help them catch up a little.” Beca shrugged, lying her ass off. She had to try really hard not to think about her plans for tomorrow because she knew that Chloe would be able to feel her heart pound and she didn’t want to give anything away. Not yet.

“Speaking of New Years, what are you doing tomorrow?” Beca asked, trailing her hand along Chloe’s arm.

“I’m working until late.” Chloe smiled softly, “The show opens on the second so tomorrow’s the dress rehearsal, the director is giving us New Years Day off. I’ll be back before midnight though, no way I’m not counting down into next year without you.”

“You’re adorable.” Beca grinned as she chuckled lightly, “As long as you’re home before midnight I don’t mind. I love how much you love your job. I love seeing you this happy.”

“A lot of it’s down to you.” Chloe whispered, brushing her nose against Beca’s, “I don’t think I’d be this happy without you.”

“Well you’re stuck with me a little while yet Beale, so it’s a good job I make you happy.” Beca laughed as she kissed her.

The couple eventually dragged themselves out of each other’s arms and the bed and off to their commitments for the day, the time passing by in a rather uneventful fashion.

It was New Years Eve and Beca was sat on the couch as she waited for Chloe to come home, her leg bouncing a little as she thought about tonight. About asking Chloe to marry her. 


“That’s it. That’s perfect.” Beca grinned at her friends, wiping the tears from her eyes.

Stacie walked over as the Bellas chatted excitedly amongst themselves, hand on Beca’s arm as she grinned, “She’s really going to love it Becs, it’s amazing.”

“Yeah?” Beca asked, grinning sheepishly, hands twitching nervously, “You really think so?”

“It’s perfect.” Stacie sat next to Beca as they sat down on the roof of Beca’s apartment building, “I can’t believe you guys are actually doing this at long last. I feel like it’s been a lifetime since you were mooning over each other at Bella rehearsals.”

Beca chuckled, “It really does, doesn’t it? God I was an idiot back then…”

“Yeah.” Stacie nodded as Beca gave her a playful shove, “But we all were. I spent nearly a whole year dating anyone but Aubrey because I was too afraid to admit I had fallen head over heels for her. But look at us now, we’re married, we’ve got a daughter… true love and all that? It forgives idiocy, it forgives mistakes and it forgives the past. You and Chlo? It’s something straight out of a fairytale, it’s soul mates, all that crap. It’s been a long road, and it’s not been an easy one, but I know in my heart of hearts that you guys are meant to be together.” 

Beca sniffed as she let her head rest on Stacie’s shoulder, “I really hope you’re right Stacie.” She whispered.

Stacie put an arm around her shoulders, “C’mon Becs, when have you known me to be wrong?”


Beca ran her hands through her hair. It had been a while since she was this anxious, but unlike every other time she’d felt like this, it was a good kind of anxiety. A happy kind. An excited kind. Her phone beeped and she picked up, seeing a text from her mom.

MOM: *photo of Ellie, Hank and Sheila wearing New Years Eve hats all with their fingers crossed*

MOM: We love you Beca, we’re rooting for you! Xoxo

Beca smirked, head jolting up as she heard Chloe’s key scrape in the lock. Quickly, Beca opened up the group chat that had been created for planning her proposal and sent one simple text message:


BECA: Ready

She stood up as the door opened, patting her pocket discreetly to make sure she had the ring. Beca swallowed hard, but she was grinning as Chloe walked in, “Hi.” She all but whispered.

Chloe froze in her tracks as she looked Beca up and down, frowning a little. Beca was in her smartest black suit and brilliant white shirt that looked brand new, a skinny black tie tied neatly in position. Her hair was loose and styled, looking like she was ready for a formal event. Chloe herself was wearing yoga pants and a sports top, hair a little damp and messily tied up, leaving the redhead feeling more than a little under dressed.

“What’s going on?” Chloe asked as she set her bag down.

“Do you trust me?” Beca asked, stepping towards Chloe and taking her hands in hers.

“Of course.” Chloe smiled, heart pounding a little but comforted by the gleam of excitement in Beca’s eyes.

“Then come with me.” Beca grinned, gently pulling her to the door and opening it.

“Wait, do I need to change first? Seeing as you’re dressed so smartly?” Chloe asked with an eyebrow raised.

“No. You’re perfect.” Beca grinned as she lead Chloe in the direction of the roof, “You’re always perfect.”

They got to the door and Beca turned to face a bewildered looking Chloe, “Close your eyes.” The brunette was beaming, her heart pounding a mile a minute.

“What?” Chloe couldn’t help the smile that crept onto her lips as she tried to figure out what was going on.

“Just close your eyes okay?” Beca tucked a lock of hair behind Chloe’s ear. Chloe closed her eyes obligingly, hearing the door to the roof click open, the cold December air hitting her as it did.

Chloe held tight to Beca’s hand as she let her lead her out onto the roof, keeping her eyes shut despite having the overwhelming urge to peek. She didn’t know what was happening, but she was excited, butterflies in her stomach.

“Open them.” Beca said, letting go of Chloe’s hands, stepping backwards and nodding to the Bellas to give them their cue.

Chloe opened her eyes, letting out a soft gasp as she looked around her, the Bellas harmonising the opening to a song she hadn’t heard them sing in nearly a decade. The roof was strung with fairy lights as it lit the roof in a warm yellow glow, rose petals strewn around her, the Bellas all dressed in smart suits and dresses in gold and black, co-ordinated to a tee. A tear slipped down Chloe’s cheek as Aubrey sang:

“Oh, her eyes, her eyes/ Make the stars look like they’re not shining/ Her hair, her hair/ Falls perfectly without her trying.”

Ashley and Flo joined in as Aubrey reached the end of the verse: “She’s so beautiful and I tell her every day./ I know, I know/ When I compliment her she won’t believe me/ And it’s so, it’s so/ Sad to think that she don’t see what I see/ But every time she asks me “Do I look okay?”/ I say…”

Chloe turned to Beca who was biting her lip, a wide grin on her face. Tears pured faster down Chloe’s face as it slowly started to dawn on her what was happening. As Aubrey, Ashley and Flo got to the end of the verse, Emily started to sing, a melody that blended perfectly with the other, Chloe shaking slightly with emotion as she looked from Beca to the Bellas.

“It’s a beautiful night, we’re looking for something dumb to do/ Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

Jessica and Stacie joined in for the second part of the verse, not a dry amongst the Bellas as they harmonised and sang during the most important moment in Beca and Chloe’s lives: “Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing juice?/ Who cares baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

The two songs melded together as Chloe stood shaking, tears flooding down her cheeks, a hand clapped over her mouth, totally overwhelmed in the moment.

“When I see your face/ There’s not a thing that I would change/ ‘Cause you’re amazing/ Just the way you are/ And when you smile/ The whole world stops and stares for a while/ ‘Cause girl you’re amazing/ Just the way you are.” Sang Aubrey, backed up by Ashley, Flo and Amy harmonising.

“Don’t say no, no, no, no, no/ Just say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah/ And we’ll go, go, go, go, go/ If you’re ready, like I’m ready/ Don’t say no, no, no, no, no/ Just say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah/ And we’ll go, go, go, go, go/ If you’re ready, like I’m ready.” Emily, backed up by Stacie with Cynthia-Rose and Jessica harmonising, sang at the same time, Lilly as always laying down the beat for both songs.

“’Cause it’s a beautiful night.” Beca sang solo as the Bellas harmonised, stepping forward as she held back her own tears, determined to get through this without weeping but knowing it probably wasn’t likely, “We’re looking for something done to do/ Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

Chloe was weeping as Beca stood in front of her, a smile on her face that could be seen from space as she slowly reached a hand into her pocket. The Bellas harmonised behind her, all of them beaming, all of them crying as Beca continued the chorus.

“Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing juice?/ Who cares baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

Beca got down on one knee, pulling the ring box from her pocket and opening it. The Bellas started to sing again as the brunette talk half a second to gather herself.

“When I see your face/ There’s not a thing that I would change/ ‘Cause you’re amazing/ Just the way you are.” Aubrey and Emily led the Bellas through the chorus again, the others backing them up and harmonising, all of them emotional as Beca started to speak.

“Chloe Beale. You are the most amazing person I have ever met, you are my solace, my rock, my guiding light. You are my soul mate, and I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else.” She sniffed hard as tears fell down her cheeks, looking up at Chloe with nothing but love in her eyes, “There is no-one in this world that I love more than you or will love as much as I love you. Chloe, if you’ll have me, I wanna spend the rest of my life proving that you made the right choice two years ago in picking me and our weird little family. You are the love of my life…”

“And when you smile/ The whole world stops and stares for a while/ ‘Cause girl you’re amazing...” The Bellas sang, falling into quiet harmony just before the last line, all accept Aubrey who sang:

“I think I wanna marry you.”

Beca grinned as the Bellas finished singing, “Chloe, will you marry me?”

Chapter Text

“Chloe, will you marry me?”

There was a silent pause that seemed to last forever as Chloe stood crying with Beca on one knee in front of her. This was it, now or never. This was the start of forever with Beca if she wanted it, and Chloe had forgotten how to move, how to speak, how to breathe as she looked down at the brunette who had tears in her eyes. Chloe let her eyes shut for a second as she took a deep breath, basking in this feeling. This was true happiness, right here, on this rooftop with Beca proposing and the Bellas there to witness their new start. She’d done it. She was finally, finally happy.

“Yes Beca. Of course I’ll marry you.” Chloe sobbed, eyes fluttering open as she looked at Beca, hoping her eyes would convey the love she felt.

Beca let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding as she started to weep, “Really?” She asked in a state of disbelief.

“Really.” Chloe beamed through her tears.

“Oh my god, make like Beyonce and put a ring on it!” Cynthia-Rose yelled as the Bellas watched eagerly.

Chloe laughed as she held her trembling hand out to Beca, the brunette taking the ring from the box and sliding the ring onto her ring finger, shaking as she got to her feet. Chloe grabbed the lapels of Beca’s suit jacket and pulled her into a deep kiss as the clock struck midnight, but neither of them noticed. Nor did they notice the loud cheering of their family, or the fizzes, pops, and bangs of the fireworks that went off over their heads. No, in that moment they knew only each other, Beca’s hands tangled in Chloe’s flaming locks, tongue pressed against hers, Chloe’s hands gripping Beca’s suit jacket so hard that it burned but not giving a damn. This was it. This was forever.

Eventually, they remembered they needed to breathe and broke apart, breathless, ridiculous grins on both of their faces.

“I love you Beca.” Chloe sniffed, still in shock at what had just happened.

“I should hope so, you just agreed to marry me.” Beca chuckled, forehead resting against hers, “I love you too Chloe. I’m so happy you said yes.”
Chloe just grinned, speechless as she cried softly, for once not caring that tears were streaming down her face, she was just too happy to care about anything other than Beca right now.

“Okay, I don’t care if this is the most romantic moment of your lives I need a hug!” Stacie ran over with her arms outstretched, the rest of the Bellas close behind as the tall brunette threw her arms around the pair.

There was not a dry eye amongst them as they entered into the group hug. This was worth it, worth the years of pining over each other, worth the hostage situation, worth the sadness and heartbreak, worth every last second from the activities fair in Beca’s freshman year to now, because at long long last had each other. Forever. The hug eventually broke apart, every one of them wiping tears from their faces. 

Beca and Chloe remained in each other’s arms as they wiped their tears away, not wanting to let each other go just yet, just in case this was a dream that neither of them wanted to wake from. Beca played with the hair on the back of Chloe’s neck as she was unable to take her eyes off hers, the wide grin on her face threatening to break it in half. Chloe ran a hand through Beca’s hair, an equally large and ridiculous grin on her face.

“I’m going to be Mrs Beca Mitchell huh?” Chloe mumbled, twirling a lock of Beca’s hair around her finger.

“Only if you want to be.” Beca stroked her cheek with her thumb.

Chloe gently shook her head, “I haven’t been a Beale in a very long time. You’re my future Becs, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“C’mon dude don’t make me cry more…” Beca raised an eyebrow as she sniffed again, “I love you Chlo.”

“I love you too.” Chloe grinned, wiping away Beca’s tear with her thumb.

“I believe I was promised champagne?” Amy called, Beca’s gaze finally breaking from Chloe’s as she turned to look at Amy.

“Oh shit, it’s in the fridge downstairs… I was gonna bring it up before Chloe got home but I forgot…” Beca was still grinning even as she winced a little.

“I’ll get it.” Aubrey smiled warmly, “Stace will you give me a hand?”

“Sure!” Stacie joined Aubrey as the two headed for the door down into the building.

“Are you guys sure?” Beca asked, not really wanting to leave the moment but also feeling bad that Aubrey was running errands for her.

“Absolutely. You two stay in this bubble and watch the fireworks.” Aubrey grinned as Chloe and Beca turned their attention to the night sky and the flashes and bangs of colour above their heads.

Stacie followed Aubrey down the stairs into Beca and Chloe’s apartment, heading for the fridge as Aubrey stopped in the living room, watching her wife for a second. The tall brunette turned around with a soft frown on her face as she saw Aubrey just standing there.

“You okay?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Aubrey grinned, “Come here a sec?”

Stacie frowned again as she walked back over to Aubrey, taking her outstretched hands. Aubrey just smiled, tears rolling down her cheeks as she gently placed Stacie’s hand on her stomach.

“Hey mommy.” She smiled as Stacie gasped, looking from Aubrey’s stomach to her face and back again.

“Are you-? Are we-?” Stacie couldn’t find her words as her fingers shakily traced over her wife’s stomach, laughing slightly as she tried to comprehend it.

“The doctor called earlier. October 4th. Nine more months, more or less, and you’re gonna be a mom again.” Aubrey was crying as she stroked Stacie’s lower arms.

“Oh my god…” Stacie was beaming, keeping one hand on Aubrey’s stomach and using the other to cup her cheek as she wiped her tears away with her thumb, “We’re gonna have another kid.”

“Yeah.” Aubrey nodded, “Yeah we are.”

“I love you so much.” Stacie whispered as she pulled her into a deep kiss, still keeping one hand resting where her future child was growing. She broke away from the kiss and gently dropped to her knees, resting her forehead against Aubrey’s stomach, “And I love you so much, peanut. You have no idea how much just yet, but I promise I am gonna spend every day showing you just how much I love you.”

Aubrey ran a hand through Stacie’s hair, sobbing gently at the outpouring of love from her wife, “You’re the best mom in the world Stace, we’re so lucky to have you.”

Stacie kissed her stomach over and over again, hands resting on her hips, eventually looking up at her wife, eyes full of tears, “Thank you. Thank you for making our family bigger, for bringing more love and joy into our lives.”

Aubrey said nothing as she gently pulled Stacie to her feet, kissing her deeply, tears streaming down their faces.

“I love you.” Aubrey whispered as they pulled away again.

“I love you too.” Stacie whispered back, holding Aubrey like she was the most precious thing in the world.

“We should get the champagne.” Aubrey grinned after a few moments, “The Bellas will start asking questions otherwise.”

“Yeah… we’re not telling them tonight right?” Stacie smiled, “That’s why you told me down here?”

“I just don’t want to take away from Beca and Chloe’s big moment that’s all.” Aubrey played with the baby hairs on the back of Stacie’s neck, biting her lip a little.

“Me neither.” Stacie ran her fingers along Aubrey’s stomach again, still not quite daring to believe it, “We have plenty of time to tell the Bellas, it doesn’t have to be tonight.”

A few minutes later, Stacie and Aubrey returned to the roof with a few bottles of a champagne and a bottle of sparkling cider (primarily for Beca, but Aubrey was going to make sure that she was in charge of the drinks to make sure that hers was non-alcoholic too) as well as glasses. They handed out glasses as the corks were popped, Aubrey clearing her throat after everyone had a drink in their hand.

“A toast.” She beamed, looking to Chloe and Beca, the short brunette stood with her back pressed to Chloe, one of the redhead’s arms around her waist, “To Beca and Chloe, living proof that no matter what life may throw in your path, true love always finds a way.”

“To Beca and Chloe!” The Bellas cheered, taking a large sip of their drinks as Beca leant back to kiss Chloe again.

The Bellas celebrated on the roof of the apartment building for hours, not caring if Beca and Chloe’s neighbours were disturbed. It was the new year, but more than that it was a new beginning. The door to the past, the heart ache and sadness, was finally closed and a new one was opened, one that promised happiness, love and pure unadulterated bliss. 

It was about an hour and a half later when Beca finally untangled herself from Chloe’s arms, heading over to where Aubrey stood staring out at the New York skyline, Stacie chatting happily with Jessica and Ashley. She stood next to Aubrey for a moment, neither of them saying anything for a moment.

“So when are you going to tell the others?” Beca asked, not looking at Aubrey as the blonde gasped.

“How did you-?” Aubrey couldn’t help the smile that crept onto her lips.

“I’ve spent nearly two years at parties pouring myself drinks that aren’t alcoholic and being able to pick them out on a table or whatever. That’s not champagne, it’s cider.” Beca smirked, turning to look at Aubrey, “And at Christmas, that ‘gin and tonic’? All tonic, with a slice of lime.”

“You notice more than I give you credit for Mitchell.” Aubrey laughed lightly, “I’ll tell them another day. Soon, but not tonight. It’s yours and Chloe’s night. The other Bellas haven’t figured it out right?”

“No.” Beca shook her head with a laugh, “No they’re totally wrapped in Chloe and I, you’re all good dude. But you know Chloe and I don’t mind right? Chloe’s going to be made up that you guys are going to have another kid, and so will everyone else. If you wanna tell them tonight-”

Aubrey cut Beca off with a warm smile, “Absolutely not. You guys have been at the centre of attention for one reason or another for nearly three years now, and so few of the reasons have been good. So tonight, you guys get a night to celebrate happiness and love all to yourselves. We can wait a while.”

“Thanks…” Beca whispered, sighing a little as she looked out at the skyline again, “She looks happy doesn’t she? Genuinely, truly happy?”

Aubrey put an arm around Beca’s shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze, “Yes Beca. That’s because she is. Sure, she’s still healing, you both are and that’s okay. But after everything you’ve both been through, you deserve this. Be happy Beca, enjoy this moment.”

Beca turned and wrapped her arms around Aubrey’s waist, crying softly into her shoulder. The blonde said nothing as she pulled her close, knowing that this wasn’t sadness. It was relief, relief that all of this was worth it, that she was finally allowed to be happy, that Chloe had said yes. 

“Sorry.” Beca sniffled as she pulled back after a few minutes, smiling softly, “I guess I’ve been holding that in all day.”

“You have nothing to apologise for Beca.” Aubrey gave a Beca’s arm a reassuring squeeze, “Go back to your fiancee, enjoy your night.”

Beca grinned as she turned to go back to Chloe, pausing and looking over her shoulder, “Bree?”

“Yeah?” Aubrey asked as she turned to look at Beca.

“Congratulations. That’s the luckiest kid in the world.”

The Bellas eventually made their way back to their hotels and apartments at about 4am, hugging Beca and Chloe tightly before they did. Stacie and Aubrey were the last to leave, not having to worry about relieving a babysitter as Bella was staying with Stacie’s parents. They shared a look as they walked over to Beca and Chloe, Aubrey having told Stacie that Beca had figured it out, so in-tune after so many years that they didn’t need a verbal conversation, especially not about this. 

“I’m so happy for you guys.” Stacie beamed as she hugged Chloe tightly.

“Thanks Stace, for all of this.” Chloe grinned as the tall brunette pulled back. 

Stacie looked to Aubrey again, their grins matching as the blonde nodded at her wife, “We um, we have something to tell you Chlo.”

Chloe frowned a little, a flash of concern in her eyes, “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah.” Aubrey nodded, intertwining her fingers with Stacie’s, “Everything’s amazing… I’m pregnant.”

“What?!” Chloe exclaimed, tears brimming in her eyes, smile wide, “Oh my god, Bree!” Chloe threw her arms around her best friend, hugging her tightly, “This is amazing! Beca isn’t this amazing?!”

“It is.” Beca grinned, pulling Stacie into a hug, “Congrats dude.”

Chloe and Beca pulled back, the redhead putting her hands on Aubrey’s hips as she looked at her stomach, squatting so she was eye level with it, “Hey little one. I’m your Auntie Chloe and I’m going to spoil you rotten okay? Anything you want, you can have.”

“Um… I feel like we need a conversation about this?” Stacie frowned, still smirking.

“Oh come on, that didn’t work with Bella, why on earth would it work with this one?” Beca laughed.

“Hey!” Chloe pouted, “Carry on like that and I’ll tell them you’re the boring aunt…”

Beca scoffed, a look of mild outrage on her face, an eyebrow raised, “That’s harsh Chlo. Everyone knows I’m the cool aunt!”

“Sure honey.” Chloe purred as she stood up, pressing a soft kiss to her fiancee’s lips.

“We haven’t told the other Bellas yet, we only found out today and we wanted tonight to be about you two.” Aubrey rested her head on Stacie’s shoulder, hand in hers.

“You guys didn’t have to do that…” Chloe’s expression was soft even as she frowned.

“We wanted to.” Stacie smiled, head resting on Aubrey’s, “You guys deserved a night all about you. A happy one.”

Beca had an arm around Chloe’s waist as she smiled softly, “Thanks. For everything you’ve done for us. We wouldn’t be here without you two.”

Stacie beamed as tears slipped down her cheeks, “It’s nothing. What’s a best woman for?” She winked.

“Go on, get out of here you two.” Chloe grinned, “Gotta rest up to look after my niece or nephew. And if you keep pulling those faces I’m gonna cry and I’ve done plenty of that tonight.” She chuckled.

Stacie hugged Chloe tightly again, and then Beca, “Congratulations you guys. You deserve this.”

Stacie and Aubrey left them to it after Aubrey had hugged them both tightly too. Beca moved to collect the glasses that had been left by the Bellas, stopping only when Chloe put her arms around her waist.

“Hey you.” Chloe murmured in her ear, kissing the side of her neck.

“Hey.” Beca grinned, pressing herself against the redhead and resting her arms on top of Chloe’s.

“You realise you’re stuck with me forever now right?” Chloe chuckled, holding Beca as close as she could.

“Yeah… but it means you’re stuck with me too, so I feel like we’re even.” Beca laughed, turning her head so that she could look at Chloe.

“I can live with that.” Chloe leant in and kissed Beca, a grin on her lips as she did, “Can I buy you a ring?” She asked as she pulled back.
Beca turned in her arms, a soft smile on her face, “You wanna get me a ring?” She whispered, hands on the back of her neck.

“Yeah.” Chloe nodded, a light blush creeping onto her cheeks, “I want you to have something you can look at and remind yourself that I’m yours whenever you need it.”

“I’d love that.” Beca grinned, “Chloe I’m so happy right now. I’ve literally never been as happy as I am here in this moment, on the roof of our apartment building, knowing that you’re going to be my wife.”

Chloe sniffed as a tear slipped down her cheek, arms around Beca’s waist tightening, clinging to her as if she was afraid that if she let go Beca would simply float away from her, “I never thought I could be this happy.” She whispered, “You, Beca Mitchell, have made me into this whole new person I don’t recognise and I will never, in a million lifetimes, be able to explain how much I love you.”

A week later, Beca returned from work a little later than usual as Emily’s album was due to be released the next day and there was still a lot to do. As she opened the door, the smell of Chinese food hit her causing a warm smile to form on her lips. Beca was exhausted, but the smell of food waiting for her seemed to perk her up a little. Chloe grinned at her as she entered their apartment, finishing putting the last of the food on plates.

“Hey baby.” She put the last of the empty containers in the trash before walking over to Beca and pulling her into her arms, “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.” Beca mumbled, kissing her as she draped her arms around her neck, “Serving it on plates rather than straight from the container? Is the Queen of England coming?”

Chloe giggled as she shook her head, “What? I can’t make things fancy after you’ve had a long day at work?”

“You can. It’s really sweet.” Beca grinned, “And if it’s any indication of the rest of our lives, I think I’m really going to enjoy this marriage thing.” Beca moved to go and sit at the table but Chloe caught her wrist, a huge smile on her face.

“One thing before we eat?” Chloe reached into her pocket, pulling out a ring box and getting one one knee.

“Chloe…” Beca started, tears in her eyes as she looked down at the redhead.

“Beca Mitchell, there aren’t enough words in the English language to express how I feel about you, and how glad I am that you’re in my life. It feels a little dumb to ask this when I know the answer and it’s nowhere near as beautiful and romantic as yours was, but… Beca will you marry me?” Chloe was grinning from ear to ear as she opened the box, a beautiful silver ring set with a diamond set in the middle.

“Gee I don’t know… I don’t think I can commit to one person for the rest of my life…” Beca teased Chloe, smirking as Chloe pulled her face.

“Beca!” She exclaimed, poking at her ribs with her free hand.

“Sorry, sorry.” Beca laughed, “Yes Chloe, of course I’ll marry you, you weirdo.”

Chloe took the ring from the box and slid it onto Beca’s hand, getting up off the floor and pulling Beca into a deep kiss, “There.” She mumbled as the kiss broke, grinning like an idiot, “Now you really are stuck with me for good.”

“I can think of no better way to spend the rest of my life.” Beca grinned.

Time passed by in a blur. Emily’s album debuted on January 8th, and by the 21st it was in the charts top 10, and stayed there for four months. In those four months, Beca became an Executive Producer on the back of her success with Emily’s album, Chloe not only choreographed but directed a Broadway production of Rent to rave reviews from critics. Aubrey was starting to show as she entered her second trimester, working on franchising the Lodge, Stacie was overseeing four huge projects at work, and Benji and Emily had gotten married in a very small service (just the Bellas and their parents) before Emily had been whisked off on a tour of the East Coast.

“We should set a date.” Beca mused as her and Chloe lay in bed one night.

“Hm but which one?” Chloe lifted her head from Beca’s shoulder so she could see her face, a bemused smile on her face as she traced her fingers up and down the brunette’s stomach.

Beca took a deep breath, “What about… July 25th?” Beca searched Chloe’s cornflower blue eyes for some kind of reaction.

“Wow…” Chloe whispered, “That’s… that’s a great idea.”

“Yeah?” Beca asked, running a hand through Chloe’s hair as she frowned a little, “Are you sure? Because there are 364 other days to choose from…”

“No. It’s perfect.” Chloe sniffed a little as she smiled, “You getting shot was the worst day of my life, and I’ve had some pretty awful ones. But getting to marry you and changing what that day means, forever? It’s going to be the best day of my life.”

“You’re such a dork Chlo.” Beca was grinning like the Cheshire Cat as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, “It’s one of the many reasons I love you.” 

“I love you too.” Chloe grinned too, pressing a kiss to her lips.

A month later, Chloe was at home enjoying a well earned day off when there was a knock at the door. Opening it, she grinned broadly as she saw who was on the other side.

“Ellie! I didn’t know you were in New York!” She grinned broadly at Beca’s mom as the older woman wrapped her in a warm hug.

“Can’t a woman drop in to see her kids?” Ellie laughed, hugging her tightly.

“Always. But Beca’s at work till late.” Chloe smiled as she pulled back, running a hand through her hair.

“I know! I wanted to take you to lunch, maybe do a bit of shopping?” Ellie’s grin was broad as Chloe let her into the apartment, “Have a proper girls day out?”

“I’d love that!” Chloe beamed, “I need to change first, put on something other than my sweats, but I’d really like that.”

“Great! Well chop chop then, I got us reservations for 1pm!” Ellie grinned.

It was no secret that Chloe had never had a ‘normal’ relationship with her parents, and she quietly savoured every minute that she spent with Beca’s parents, but particularly Ellie. There seemed to be a special connection between the two of them, and there were times Chloe truly felt like Ellie was her mom.

“So, directing Broadway shows? That’s huge!” Ellie grinned as they sat in a nice restaurant, an easy atmosphere between them.

“It was just the one show that ran for a couple of weeks as a one off, it’s not a big deal.” Chloe shrugged, blushing a little.

“Hey, don’t do that! It’s a huge deal.” Ellie frowned a little, “The critics loved it, and you know that stuffy white men are the hardest people to please.”

Chloe just laughed as she shook her head a little, biting her lip, “I did really love it… I haven’t really ever had any solo projects, not even with the Bellas. I was always co-captain, and I loved that please don’t think I didn’t, Beca and I make an amazing team, but having a project all to myself? It was amazing.”

“I’m really proud of you Chloe.” Ellie grinned, “It was an amazing show.”

“You sure you’re not just saying that so I’ll carry on getting you free tickets?” Chloe raised a teasing eyebrow, sipping her drink.

“Maybe a little…” Ellie laughed, “Seriously Chloe, you’re doing amazing, we’re all really proud of you.”

“Thanks Ellie.” Chloe smiled warmly.

“So I was thinking…” Ellie grinned, “And by thinking I mean planned it without asking, that we could go shop for your wedding dress? If you want one obviously…”

“Really?!” Chloe’s eyes were sparkling with excitement and the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.

“Yep! You, me, Aubrey, and as many cake samples as we want. And you looking gorgeous in white dresses obviously.” Ellie winked.

“Ellie, I- I’d love that. It’s perfect.” Chloe blinked quickly to try and keep her tears at bay, a ridiculous grin on her face.

“Whatever dress you want Chloe, whichever feels like the one, you can have it. It’s on me. And by me I mean me and Hank and Sheila, we all want to pitch in for it.” Ellie smiled.

“Ellie it… it’s too much.” Chloe shook her head, a couple of tears slipping down her cheeks, “I- I don’t know what to say…”

“It’s not, Chloe. It’s what parents do. We’ll do the same for Beca with whatever she wants to wear. You’re family kiddo, it’s kinda my job to spoil you a little.” Ellie rested her hand on Chloe’s arm, stroking it gently as she smiled at her.

Chloe shook her head again, wiping at her eyes with the back of her free hand, a grateful smile on her lips, “I don’t know what to say…” She whispered, overcome with emotion, not able to comprehend this kind of affection from a parental figure.

“You don’t have to say anything. Just come and look at wedding dresses, you don’t even need to pick one today.” Ellie was still grinning, holding back a few tears of her own. It broke her heart that Chloe wasn’t used to this kind of family love, and she was so determined to give it to her now.

“Okay.” Chloe nodded, “Let’s do it.”

Aubrey was waiting for them at the wedding dress boutique, now five and half months pregnant and getting bigger by the minute. She smiled warmly as she waved to them, getting up out of the chair she had settled in whilst she waited for them.

“Bree!” Chloe beamed, hugging her as close as she could with the baby bump in the way.

“So I feel like there was something you forget to mention on the phone…” Ellie frowned at Aubrey as the blonde pulled back from her hug with Chloe, a smirk on Ellie’s face that was very similar to the one that her daughter often wore.

“Yeah…” Aubrey laughed lightly, “I figured it would make a nice surprise.”

Ellie hugged Aubrey too, pulling back to look at her, “How long have you got left?” She grinned.

“Three and a half months.” Aubrey was handling being pregnant a lot better than her wife had, but that didn’t stop her pulling a face, “I’m looking forward to being able to see my feet again.”

Ellie laughed, “Tell me about it, by the third month that I was pregnant with Beca I was really over being pregnant.”

Aubrey laughed, shaking her head as she linked her arm with Chloe’s and lead her inside the boutique, “C’mon Chlo, I’m a few months away from trying on bridesmaids dresses, but you can play dress up all afternoon if you want.”

Chloe giggled as they all walked over to the rails of white dresses, trailing her fingers along them as she bit her lip. Aubrey lowered herself into a nearby chair, Ellie next to her as helped herself to one of the slices of cake that had been set out.

“Alright Chloe, let’s get started!” Ellie grinned, settling back in her seat, “Pick some that you like and see how they feel.”

They were there for a good two hours, Chloe trying on nearly every dress in the store and looking stunning in all of them. Aubrey and Ellie always clapped, whistled and gave out compliments every time that Chloe came out in a different dress. Chloe laughed and twirled for them, having one of the best afternoons of her life. There was quiet lull as Chloe was trying on another dress as Aubrey turned to Ellie.

“It’s nice to see her so happy.” Aubrey mused quietly, a soft smile on her lips.

“You guys have known each other a long time now huh?” Ellie asked.

“Yeah… nearly eleven years now.” Aubrey grinned, hand subconsciously stroking her baby bump, “I hadn’t realised it was quite that long… I can’t remember a time she wasn’t in my life though.” She chuckled.

“I get the feeling she has that impact on a lot of people.” Ellie laughed lightly, “She’s quite the force of nature that one. And quite possibly the strongest person I have ever met.”

“I am forever in awe of her.” Aubrey smiled softly, “And god am I glad she’s happy.”

“Me too. She kinda grows on you.” Ellie raised an eyebrow with a smirk as Aubrey chuckled.

“Has anyone ever told you that you and Beca are basically the same person?” Aubrey asked, an amused look on her face.

“All the time.” Ellie laughed, “She’s been in there a while hasn’t she?”

“Yeah…” Aubrey looked at the clock, “It’s been ten minutes…”

“Chloe?” Ellie called, sitting forward in her seat, “Are you okay hun?”

Instead of a verbal response, the curtain to the changing room opened, Chloe walking out with a wide smile on her face and tears in her eyes, “Guys… I think this is it…” The dress was stunning; an a-line, strapless ball gown, adorned with lace and beads. It showed off her toned arms, her muscular back, hugged her curves in the most perfect way. It was like it had been tailored just for her.

“Oh Chloe…” Aubrey whispered, tears slipping down her cheeks, “Oh it’s perfect…”

“You look incredible…” Ellie grinned, “It really is perfect… how do you feel?”

“Like…” Chloe swallowed the lump in her throat as she turned to look at herself in the mirror, hands smoothing out the skirt, “Like it was made for me… is that lame?” She turned to look back at the women behind her, biting her lip.

“No.” Ellie shook her head, “It looks like it was.”

Chloe simply beamed through the tears that spilled from her eyes as Aubrey and Ellie got up from their feet, the former having to heave herself upwards a little, wrapping her arms around Chloe as Ellie gently stroked her hair. Chloe closed her eyes for a moment, basking in this feeling for a moment. She felt something poke her in the side and she opened her eyes again, frowning softly as she turned to Aubrey.

“What did you poke me for?” She asked, bemused smile on her face.

“I didn’t… you felt that?” Aubrey grinned, looking down at her stomach.

“Oh my god… is that the first time they’ve done that?” Chloe exclaimed, turning so she was facing Aubrey.

“First time someone else has been able to feel it!” Aubrey beamed, gently taking Chloe’s hand, “Here, can you feel that?”

“Huh…” Chloe giggled, “Looks like someone else approves of the dress!”

Beca returned to her apartment at nine pm that night, stopping dead in her tracks as she saw the bags that were strewn all over every surface of her apartment.

“Uh… Chloe?” Beca called, “Why does it look like the mall threw up in here?”

“Becs!” Chloe grinned, appearing from behind a stack of bags on the kitchen table, “I uh… I went shopping.”

“I can see that… did you leave anything in the stores?” Beca asked, eyebrow raised.

Before Chloe could respond, Ellie walked out of the bathroom, smiling warmly at her daughter, “Hey Beca! Good day at work?”

“Mom?” Beca exclaimed, startled, “Okay, some of this is starting to make sense…” She gestured to the shopping bags.

“Yeah… I may have gone a little overboard with things.” Ellie grinned, “Oh! But I did get you…” Ellie started to rummage through the bags until she found what she was looking for, “Aha!” She held out two bags for Beca, smiling broadly.

Beca frowned, bemused as she took them from her mother, “Mom… I love these.” She grinned looking up from the bags and at her mother. In one bag were four flannel shirts of different colours, in the other a pair of ankle high leather boots.

“The shirts were Chloe’s idea.” Ellie nodded to the redhead who was beaming.

“You always looked so cute in them in college.” Chloe shrugged, grinning broadly, Beca blushing a little.

“I take it you guys had fun today then?” Beca quickly changed the subject in the hopes it would dissipate her blush.

“We had a great time.” Ellie grinned, winking at Chloe who grinned back.

“The best.” Chloe nodded.

Beca looked from her mom to Chloe and back again, a soft frown not able to wipe the smirk off her lips, “Why am I worried all of sudden?”

“I have no idea, we have done nothing to be suspicious!” Ellie pretended to outraged.

“Yeah!” Chloe exclaimed, unable to keep the grin off her face.

It warmed Beca’s heart to see her mom and Chloe this close, “Mhm, sure.” She nodded, “I’m on to you two.”

“Honey…” Chloe all but purred as she walked over to her fiancee, “There’s nothing going on. Don’t you trust me?” She stroked Beca’s cheek as she rested her other hand on her hip, Beca blushing like a school girl as it sent a tingle down her spine.

“I- um…” Beca swallowed hard as Chloe’s thumb traced across the waist band of her jeans, “Of course I do.”

Ellie rolled her eyes, smiling fondly at the couple, “I’d better leave you guys to it before Beca melts into a puddle.” 

Beca blushed even deeper as her mom gathered her shopping bags (they accounted for about seventy percent of the bags all over the apartment). After she bid the pair farewell, Beca looked around at the remaining bags, grinning a little.

“I’m glad you went out and treated yourself Chlo, you earned it lately after working so hard.” Beca smiled warmly as Chloe looked for a specific bag.

“It’s not just me I treated.” She grinned as she found what she was looking for. “I uh… I slipped off and bought something whilst your mom was in the home ware department looking at vases.” Chloe held up what was in the pink bag up for Beca to see.

“Whoa…” Beca groaned, a wicked smirk on her lips, “Dude what are you doing to me?”

Chloe grinned, biting her lip, “And that’s your reaction before I’ve put it on…”

Mia Genevieve Conrad-Posen was born at five am on October 9th after almost twenty three hours in labour. At three thirty am on October 8th, Beca Mitchell was awoken by the vibrating of her phone on her nightstand. She frowned, fumbling for the phone and answering it. Who the hell was calling her at this time in the morning?

“Hello?” She croaked, feeling Chloe stir next to her.

“Becs? Aubrey’s in labour.” Stacie’s voice down the phone was excited.

“Good for her.” Beca grumbled, “It’s three in the morning.”

“Give me the phone.” Chloe mumbled, a tired smile on her face as she took it from Beca, able to hear Stacie’s excited squeak from there, “Stace?”

“I forget Beca’s not a morning person.” Stacie laughed, “Bree’s in labour, we’re heading to the hospital. She wants you guys there if that’s okay?” There was a beat as Stacie paused, her voice quieter when she spoke again, “Between you and me I think she’s a little scared, I think she needs you guys for comfort more than  anything else.”

“Of course. We’ll be there in like twenty minutes?” Chloe was already out of bed, blindly grabbing clothes from the dresser, throwing some at Beca who groaned loudly, “I’ll get some coffee in Beca so she’s less grumpy.” Chloe raised an eyebrow at Beca who extended her middle finger from under the clothes that her fiancee had thrown on her.

Chloe rolled her eyes, a smirk on her lips as she hung up the phone, “C’mon Becs! Don’t you want to meet your niece or nephew?”

“Yes. At a reasonable hour.” Beca grumbled, making no effort to get out of the bed.

“Babies are unpredictable, you’ll figure that out quickly when we have our own.” Chloe winked at Beca who moved the hoodie that had landed on her head, unable to hide the shock at Chloe’s statement.

“O-our kids?” Beca gulped, “You think about us having kids?”

Chloe shrugged as she pulled on her jeans, trying not to make a big deal of it as she could see Beca freaking out a little, “Yeah… but not right now, obviously. But someday, yeah.”

Beca untangled herself from the sheets at last, pulling on the hoodie that had landed on her head, swallowing hard. It wasn’t that she didn’t want kids, especially with Chloe, it’s just that she worried about her being ability to be a mother. Because yes, Beca and her mom were close now, but after the divorce? It was rough, her mom falling apart and Beca having to step up at seven to help run the house and remind her mom to pay the bills. Beca hated the idea that she might ever put that burden on her own kid.

“Yeah… someday…” Beca mumbled. This was a conversation for another time, and certainly not for a sleep hazed early morning when they were rushing to be by Aubrey’s side when she gave birth.

“C’mon!” Chloe grinned brightly. She could see the cogs turning in Beca’s head and knew that she had unintentionally freaked her out a little. A couple of years ago, Chloe would have fixated on it, apologised incessantly, made both of them uncomfortable, but now? Now Chloe was giving Beca the space to work through whatever was going on in her head. Whenever she was ready she would talk about it, that much Chloe knew. “Y’know if we’re late Bree will make us run laps of the maternity ward.”

“I’d say let her try, but I have a feeling she’s gonna be extra Captain Posen when pushing out a baby…” Beca smirked, turning to Chloe, relieved the topic of their potential kids had been dropped, “Even I’m not ballsy enough to stand up to that.”

Chloe threw her hair into a messy bun as she grabbed her bag and phone, Beca still grumbling at the time as she stuffed her feet into her shoes and ran her hand through her hair in lieu of a brush as she trudged after the redhead.

They were at the hospital faster than they thought they would be arriving in ten minutes rather than twenty, Chloe rushing to the reception desk as Beca made a beeline straight for the coffee machine.

“Hi, we’re here for my friend Aubrey Posen?” Chloe was grinning from ear to ear as the excitement of meeting her new niece or nephew made her eyes glitter.

“Uh, I’m sorry, we don’t have anyone by that name here.” The receptionist shook her head as Chloe frowned. Had she gone to the wrong hospital?

“Chloe? You beat us here?” 

Chloe’s head whipped around, beaming as Stacie’s voice rang out behind her.

“I told you that cab driver was taking us the long way!” Aubrey grumbled, reluctantly sat in a wheelchair as Stacie rolled her over to Chloe.

“You guys just got here?” Beca asked as she rejoined them, coffees in hand as she smirked, passing one to Chloe.

“There’s Little Miss Sunshine!” Stacie raised an eyebrow as Beca rolled her eyes.

“You were the ones who decided to wake me up at three in the morning!” Beca protested, resting her head on Chloe’s shoulder.

“I am so sorry Beca, next time I have a baby I’ll make sure to schedule it at a time that’s more convenient for you!” Aubrey scowled.

“That’s all I ask.” Beca smirked teasingly, Stacie suppressing a laugh as Aubrey’s scowl deepened.

“Let’s get you checked in.” Chloe was so used to playing peace maker between Aubrey and Beca that it was second nature by now, although these days it was always friendly teasing rather than the tense arguments they used to get into Aubrey’s senior year.

A few minutes later, Aubrey was settled in the bed of a private labour room, Stacie by her side holding her hand, Beca settled in one of the chairs in the room, Chloe perched on the arm of the chair as all of them focused attention on the doctor who was examining Aubrey.

“Alright, you are in labour Aubrey, but it could be a while yet. You’re only two centimetres dilated and your contractions are still fifteen minutes apart. I’d get comfortable if I were you, we’re going to be here a while.” The doctor smiled sympathetically.

“Comfy?” Aubrey raised an eyebrow, an incredulous look on her face, “Are you kidding me?”

“I know, it seems ridiculous. But it’s all we can do right now. You’ve got plenty of people to keep you company, that should hopefully take your mind off things.” The doctor excused herself from the room, leaving Aubrey with her family.

“She’s right baby, we’re all here to take your mind off things.” Stacie smiled softly, stroking Aubrey’s hair.

“You know it’s weird…” Beca mused, smirking as she leant back in the chair, “If you’d have told me seven years ago that I’d be sat in a hospital room with the uptight captain of the Barden Bellas whilst she gave birth to her child as part of her support system, I’d have laughed in your face.”

Aubrey snorted as she let her head rest on the pillows behind her, “And if you’d have told me that the stand-offish alt girl that drove me crazy would be one of my closest friends I’d have told you to get your head out of your ass-”

“It’s not a hat.” Chloe, Stacie and Beca finished the now infamous phrase for her, Aubrey blushing a little as she laughed, shaking her head a little.

“Have you told everyone else?” Chloe asked, an affectionate smile on her face, an arm draped around Beca’s shoulders as she played with her brunette hair.

“Stacie’s parents know because they have Bella, and my mom is booking the next flight out from VA so she’ll be here soon. I haven’t told the Bellas yet, kind of got caught up in the whole ‘contractions are really painful’ thing…” Aubrey grimaced as she felt a wave of pain wash over her, hand tightening around Stacie’s. Stacie gently stroked her head as she squeezed her hand back.

“Breathe through it Bree, just like in those Lamaze classes, it’s alright.” Stacie soothed her wife as Aubrey huffed through the contraction, relieved once it had passed.

“How about I put something in the group chat?” Chloe smiled, trying to distract Aubrey, “Or should I wait until the babies here to do that?”

“Do it now.” Aubrey smiled softly, “Can you imagine the uproar if I didn’t tell them now?”

Chloe giggled as she nodded, pulling out her phone, starting to compose the text message as Stacie frowned.

“Hey, I didn’t tell them until Bella was here!” She protested, “And they all love me!”

“Yeah but we couldn’t be mad at you for not telling us after what happened.” Beca grinned, “It felt mean…”
Stacie nodded bemusedly, “Fair point.”

Their phones buzzed as Chloe sent the text message, starting to vibrate more and more furiously as the Bellas all responded.

“It’s four thirty, why are they all up?” Stacie frowned deeply.


CHLOE: Aubrey’s in labour!! Not long now until they’re here (hopefully :fingers_crossed:)

AMY: Couldn’t this news have waited until a more sociable hour? Some us were sleeping… 



EM: I got up to go for a run, but now I’m just lay in my hotel room freaking out!!

EM: Wish I was in NYC, maybe I should take a few days off the tour…

BECA: As your producer, I highly recommended you don’t do that. You’re off after tomorrow for two days, take a flight from Chicago then, there’ll still be a baby for you to meet


BECA: Of course. Also who gets up at 3am for a run? 

EM: *shrug* old Bella habits die hard I guess

CR: THIS IS HUGE!! Congrats guys!! 

FLO: Emily, I’ll book us a flight, we can go together, I have a board meeting today so I can’t fly down straight away

EM: YES FLO <3 We can hit up the duty free and see if there are any cute baby things there!!

FLO: I’m already eyeing up Chicago Cubs baby jerseys :3

STACIE: No child of mine is wearing a Cubs jersey. 

JESSICA: We’re driving up from Washington when we’ve slept a little more! We’re so excited!!!!!

CR: Hey if you guys are coming via Philly will you pick me up? Saves me having to drive there myself

ASHLEY: Of course!! Mini Bellas road trip!!

LILLY: I will be there. Maybe I’m there already.

AMY: Well I guess if everyone else is going…

Beca rolled her eyes as she turned off her phone screen, “Looks like the Bellas will be here soon too.”

“No.” Aubrey shook her head, “I love them to death, but I don’t need them all crowding in here whilst I try and push out a child!”

“It’s okay Bree, I’ll wake sure they stay in the waiting room.” Chloe smiled warmly as Stacie gave Aubrey’s hand a reassuring squeeze.

“We all just want you to be comfortable honey.” Stacie kissed Aubrey’s head as she watched another contraction wash over her wife, “Well, as comfortable as you can be anyway.”

Most of the Bellas arrived mid-morning, all of them quickly sticking their head in to say hello to Aubrey before Chloe gently ushered them back to the waiting room.

“You’re only four centimetres dilated Aubrey I’m sorry. It’s going to be a little while longer yet.” The doctor smiled apologetically.

“It’s been nine hours!” Aubrey grimaced, “We’re Posen’s, we don’t keep people waiting around this long.” Her last comment was directed at her baby bump as Stacie laughed lightly.

“Oh honey, I know.” Stacie stoked her head again, “It’s gonna be so worth it though.”

“Is it? Because I’m starting to rethink this pregnancy thing!” Aubrey growled, head flopping back dramatically against her pillows again.

“It might be a little for that.” Beca smirked, Chloe poking her in the ribs as she teased Aubrey.

“I may be in labour, but don’t think I can’t smack the sass out of you Mitchell!” Aubrey’s southern twang slipped into her voice as she grimaced, too tired and in too much pain to disguise it well.

Beca backed up from the bed a little bit as she laughed, holding up her hands defensively. Stacie rolled her eyes at the exchange, grabbing the cup of ice chips, “You want some ice chips?” She offered Aubrey, “We gotta keep you hydrated.”

“I want a bourbon.” Aubrey frowned, “But seeing as though that’s not an option I suppose ice chips will do.”

Stacie chuckled as she fed a few ice chips to her wife, grinning broadly, “Just think, in a little while Bella’s going to have a little brother or sister.”

“I hate this,” Aubrey groaned as another contraction took hold, fiercer than it had been earlier, “Jesus fucking christ I hate this,”

“I know.” Stacie stroked Aubrey’s hair again, hand gripped tightly in hers, “Breathe Bree, that’s it. You’re doing so well.”

Chloe gave Beca a look, a smile on her face. She knew exactly what she had to do as she started to sing, a song all too familiar to all of them that never failed to remind them all that things were okay as long as they had each other.

“I’ve got my ticket for the long way round.” She sang, Beca rolling her eyes a little as she looked at her fiancee, a grin on her face.

“Two bottle o’ whiskey for the way.” Beca sang, looking to Stacie who was beaming as she held tight to Aubrey’s hand, rubbing the small of her back as the contraction continued.

“And I sure would like some sweet company.” Stacie joined in, head resting against Aubrey’s as the blonde huffed and panted through the pain.

“And I’m leavin’ tomorrow what do you say?” The three of them sang, all of them smiling at Aubrey who relaxed back against the pillows as the pain passed.

“When I’m gone.” Aubrey sang breathlessly, unable to help the smile that tugged at the corner of her lips.

“When I’m gone/ When I’m gone/ You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” They sang together, all of them grinning.

“You’re gonna miss me by my hair.” Stacie sang, kissing Aubrey’s forehead,

“You’re gonna miss me everywhere.” Chloe responded, hand gently squeezing Aubrey’s.

“Oh you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Beca finished, perching on the edge of the bed near Aubrey’s legs, a warm smile on her face.

“I love you aca-nerds.” Aubrey mumbled.

By hour twenty, Aubrey was in no mood to sing or hear anyone else sing. She was tired, and in pain, and frustrated that this was taking so long.

“Please tell me this is nearly over.” She begged the doctor as she finished her examination.

“Seven centimetres.” The doctor shook her head, “I’m sorry, I know you’ve been at this a long time. With first babies it can be a long time.”

“This is ridiculous, it didn’t take you this long!” Aubrey looked to her wife, exasperated.

“I know, but that’s because there were complications Bree…” Stacie sighed softly, running a hand through Aubrey’s hair, “You’re doing so well.” Stacie was tired and emotional too, hating seeing her wife in this much pain for so long.

“I’d rather be shot again then do this.” Aubrey grumbled, exhaustion clear in every line of her face.

“Now who’s not letting it go with grace?” Beca asked with a wicked smile, eyebrow raised as Aubrey shot her a glare.

“Are you going to be okay for a few minutes, I need to go use the bathroom.” Stacie ignored Beca as she looked to her wife.

“Well I don’t want you to pee here!” Aubrey frowned as Stacie giggled, lifting their clasped hands so she kiss Aubrey’s knuckles.

“I won’t be long. Don’t go anywhere.” Stacie winked as Aubrey snorted, an eyebrow raised.

“I’m gonna go to.” Chloe kissed the top of Beca’s head as she got up, sensing that Stacie might need a minute for someone to reassure her in the same way they’d all been reassuring Aubrey.

Beca got up as Chloe and Stacie left, standing next to Aubrey’s bed with a tired smile on her face.

“I’m so tired Beca…” Aubrey whispered, turning her head to look at the short brunette, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Are you kidding?” Beca took Aubrey’s hand as she saw the blonde grimace again, giving Aubrey something to anchor herself on as the contraction took hold, “You’re Aubrey Posen, you are the woman that won the Barden Bellas they’re first ever ICCA title, you made history, nothing is beyond you.”

Aubrey cried out in pain as she gripped Beca’s hand tightly, “You did that.” She panted, “I was the one that… nearly cost us the title.”

Beca shook her head, “No. You’re didn’t. Sure, you were really stubborn and set in your ways, but you are the one that kept us all together, that kept us striving for perfection and accepting nothing less. Do you think I’d be where I am today without you teaching me to always fight for what I wanted?”
Aubrey felt a tear slip down her cheek as she leant back in the bed, looking to Beca, “You didn’t need me for that, you’ve always been scrappy.”

“True.” Beca grinned, “But you taught me discipline Bree, got me through some of the toughest times of my life. You can do anything. You got this.”

“Thanks Beca.” Aubrey mumbled, releasing the vice like grip she had on her hand, “I’m sorry I dragged you out of bed at three in the morning just to wait around.” She chuckled.

“Yeah you’ve got a lot of making up to do for that one Posen.” Beca laughed.

Three and a half hours later, Beca and Chloe walked into the recovery room, tired grins on their faces as their eyes fell on Aubrey. Stacie sat on the edge of the bed nest to her wife, eyes on the small baby in Aubrey’s arms.

“Hey Bree.” Chloe smiled as they reached her bedside, “You did it.”

“I did.” Aubrey beamed, exhausted but overwhelming happy, “Guys I want you to meet Mia Genevieve Conrad-Posen, Mia these are your godparents Beca and Chloe.” Aubrey smiled lovingly down at her daughter who looked up at her with bright blue eyes, a small wisp of blonde hair already starting to grow on her head.

“Can I hold her?” Beca was more surprised than anybody that the words had come out of her mouth, but Aubrey nodded with a grin, carefully settling Mia into Beca’s arms. It was awkward at first as Beca tried to figure out how to hold a newborn, but Mia was soon settled happily in her arms as Beca grinned at her, tears in the corner of her eyes, 

“Hey kiddo.” Beca whispered, scared that if she spoke any louder she’d upset the infant, “You took your time getting here huh? I get that, gotta make an entrance.” Beca chuckled softly, “You’ve got the best mom’s in the world y’know? And there’s this whole army of aunts and one uncle waiting right outside those doors, they can’t wait to meet you. You’re gonna be so loved Mia, and if you’re mom ever gets too annoying, you can always come to see me and Auntie Chloe, she makes the best chocolate chip pancakes.”

Chloe could feel tears slip down her cheeks as she watched Beca hold Mia. Whenever Beca was ready, she was going to make the best mom in the world. She walked over to Beca, slipping her arms around her waist and resting her chin on her shoulder, “Beca will teach you music that annoys your mom, and I’ll try and tell her not to.” She chuckled, “But there’ll always be room for you wherever we end up, that’s a promise little one.”

It was twenty six hours later when Beca and Chloe finally got back to their apartment. Beca kicked off her shoes, not even bothering to take off her clothes as she collapsed onto their bed with a loud groan.

“I’m so tired!” She groaned as Chloe lay next to her.

“Poor baby.” Chloe hummed as she giggled, running a hand through Beca’s hair as her fiancee rolled onto her side so she could see her.

“I’m sorry for freaking out earlier when you mentioned babies.” Beca smiled softly, resting a hand on Chloe’s hip as she slipped it under her t-shirt, “I just… I worry that I’m not gonna be good at it, that I’m gonna mess the kid up.”

“Oh sweetie…” Chloe moved a little so that she was pressed to Beca, tucking some of her behind her ear, “I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to be the most amazing mom in the world.”

“How can you be so sure?” Beca asked, voice small.

“Because I know you. I know how sweet, and caring, and full of love you are. I’ve watched you with Bella and Mia, watched the way you took Emily under your wing. You’re amazing Becs.” Chloe fluttered soft kisses across Beca’s cheeks as she spoke.

“I love you Chloe. And someday, I really do want to have babies with you.” Beca sniffed, fingers tracing patterns across Chloe’s ribs as the redhead shivered at her touch.

“Really?” Chloe grinned broadly, “How many.”

“At least two.” Beca said thoughtfully, “Being an only child is lonely, it gives them someone to play with then.”

“I like that.” Chloe beamed, rubbing her nose softly against Beca’s, “And not too far apart either so there isn’t a big divide because of an age gap.”

“You read my mind.” Beca chuckled, pressing a soft kiss to Chloe’s lips.

“Who would carry?” Chloe asked, fingers tracing Beca’s collarbone. She didn’t want to push the conversation too hard, but she could barely contain her excitement at the idea of her and Beca having their own kids.

“You. I don’t think I can with the shrapnel in my back.” Beca smiled softly, “The doctor mentioned something like that back in the Cayman Islands, something about the pressure that the baby would put on that area of my back and it causing the shrapnel to shift or something.”

“You’d be okay with that? With me carrying all of them?” Chloe asked. The idea of carrying their kids was thrilling, but she didn’t want Beca to feel left out.

“After watching Bree go through all that today? Absolutely.” Beca laughed, “You know how I get with pain, can you imagine how unbearable I’d be whilst in labour?”
Chloe giggled, “That’s true. You get all dramatic over a stubbed toe.” There was silence for a moment as they lay in each other’s arms, “So we’re having kids then?” Chloe whispered, grinning at Beca.

“Someday.” Beca nodded, kissing her softly, her eyelids starting to flutter shit.

“Someday.” Chloe repeated, a grin on her lips as she drifted off to sleep.

Nine months later, Chloe woke up in the guest room of Stacie and Aubrey’s house (the couple had moved into a house shortly before Mia was born needing more space than they had at their apartment and being able to comfortably afford a mortgage), instinctively reaching out for Beca before she remembered that she wasn’t there. They had agreed to spend the night before the wedding apart, especially as Chloe would be getting ready at Aubrey’s anyway. It was a stupid tradition Chloe decided as she sat up, missing the feel of Beca’s arms around her waist, but after today they’d never have to do it again. Chloe grinned as she bit her lip a little. Today was the day she married Beca, that they vowed to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Chloe couldn’t wait. 

A soft knock came at her door before it was opened a crack, Stacie’s head appearing around the door, “Morning.” She grinned as Chloe gave her a sleepy smile.

“Morning!” Chloe responded brightly as Stacie came in with a cup of coffee, handing it to Chloe as she perched on the edge of the bed.

“Did you get any sleep?” Stacie asked, knowing how excited Chloe had been when she’d arrived last night.

“A couple of hours.” Chloe shrugged, “It’s weird sleeping without Beca there though…”

“Yeah well, after today you’re stuck with the midget.” Stacie laughed.

“True.” Chloe chuckled, “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anybody else.”

“Oh don’t, I’ll be crying plenty today, don’t set me off already!” Stacie gave Chloe’s leg a playful shove, “Anyway, Aubrey sent me in with coffee whilst she feeds Mia, she wants you in the living room by seven so she can make you breakfast and then get you showered, though I think she’s going to let you wash yourself…”

Chloe laughed as she sat up a little straighter, rubbing her eyes, “She’s got her Captain Posen hat on then?” She mused.

“With military focus.” Stacie nodded, “You are the one who made her your matron of honour though, you have to have been expecting this!” She chuckled.

“Yeah, obviously!” Chloe grinned, “I love Beca, but between the two of us there wouldn’t have been a wedding if Aubrey wasn’t involved, we’d never get around to it!”

“So true…” Stacie laughed, before getting up, “Alright, I gotta go wake your soon-to-be-wife up, Bree’s got her on a super tight schedule too.”

Beca grumbled as she woke up without Chloe kissing her cheek, frowning as she sat up in bed. It really was a stupid tradition to wake up without your spouse on the day of your wedding. Beca reached for her phone, running a hand through her hair before typing a text to Chloe.

BECA: I miss you in our bed… I can’t wait to marry you so we never have to do this sleeping apart thing again xxx

CHLOE: I miss you toooo :( I can’t wait to be your wife Beca Mitchell, I love you sm xxx

BECA: I love you too weirdo xxx See you soon xxx

A knock came at Beca’s door and she swung her legs out of bed, knowing it was probably Stacie. 

“Morning Stacie!” She grinned as she let the tall brunette in heading for the coffee machine and flicking it on as she pulled a couple of mugs from the cupboard.

“You should get married more often, it makes so chipper!” Stacie grinned, teasing Beca who rolled her eyes in response.

“Shut up, I’m allowed to be excited about getting married!” Beca set a coffee down in front of Stacie as she sat in the seat opposite her.

“Mm true.” Stacie nodded, “I’d be worried if you weren’t!”

Beca laughed as she shook her head a little, “I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about anything.” She admitted, “She’s the love of my life y’know, everything just feels so right when she’s around.”

“What is it with you and Chloe trying to make me cry already?” Stacie groaned dramatically, “Give a girl a break won’t you?”
Beca rolled her eyes as she sipped her coffee, “How is Chloe?”

“She’s great, she’s just as excited as you are.” Stacie beamed, “Aubrey’s got her drill sergeant hat on though, so I’m glad that I’m here instead.”
Beca laughed, “As if she’s not sent you with a schedule too!”

“Well yeah…” Stacie chuckled, “But I’m less likely to hit you with something if you don’t stick to it to the letter.”

“And I appreciate that.” Beca grinned, running a hand through her hair again, “I can’t believe we’re actually here Stace. I can’t believe that after eight years, after everything we’ve been through, I finally get to marry Chloe Beale.”
Stacie reached out to take Beca’s hand and gave it a squeeze, “I can. I always knew you idiots would make it, even when you doubted it yourselves.” Tears formed in the corners of Stacie’s eyes as she looked at Beca.

“Thanks Stace…” Beca mumbled sniffing back her own tears, “Alright let’s see what’s on this schedule before we both start crying. There’ll be plenty of that today as it is.”

By ten am Chloe had eaten, showered, and had her nails done. Aubrey was pacing around the house with military focus, directing everyone down the phone as well as Chloe and her daughters in her house.

“Alright.” Aubrey set the phone down as she turned to Chloe, “Jess, Ashley and Lilly will be her in twenty minutes, Amy, Flo and Emily will be at Beca’s at the same time so that’s the bridesmaid’s taken care of. Cynthia Rose is going to do Beca’s hair first and then come and do yours, she’ll be here by eleven thirty. Then you’ll do your make up whilst I get Bella and Mia ready before doing my own, and we’ll be done by the time the car service gets here at twelve thirty and at the hotel right on time for the ceremony at one.”

“Aubrey?” Chloe grinned, “Breathe honey. It’s going to be fine. It’s all organised to a tee, so do yourself a favour and sit down for five minutes.”

“But-” Aubrey started.

“Sit.” Chloe said firmly, still smiling warmly, “It’s my wedding day, think of it as my wedding present.”

Aubrey rolled her eyes but relented, sitting in the chair opposite Chloe was a soft smile on her face, “Sorry, I’ve gone all Captain Posen about this haven’t I? I just want today to be perfect for you…”

“It will be.” Chloe reassured her, putting a hand on her arm, “I’m marrying Beca today, everything else is secondary. Thank you for working this hard for me, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.”

“Of course Chlo. What’re sisters for?” Aubrey grinned, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

Beca could feel her hands shaking as she got out of the car, closely followed by Stacie, Amy and Emily. This was it. Now or never. Her parents were waiting for her as she walked into the lobby, tears in Hank’s eyes as he looked at his daughter.

“Hey Beca.” He grinned as Beca hugged him, suddenly feeling the need for a hug off her dad.

“Hey dad.” She mumbled into his shoulder as he hugged her back. She pulled back, taking a deep breath as she straightened her jacket out again.

“You look beautiful Beca.” Hank smiled, “I can’t believe my little girl is getting married…”

“Don’t say things like that, you’ll have her crying her make up off.” Ellie hit Hank’s arm with her purse as she pulled Beca into a hug, “He is right though, you look gorgeous honey.”

“Really gorgeous.” Sheila echoed, beaming as she took her turn to hug Beca.

“Thanks guys.” Beca sniffed, trying hard to keep her tears at bay until at least the ceremony was over, “And thanks for coming.”

“Are you kidding?!” Ellie raised an incredulous eyebrow, “Like we’d have missed your wedding.”

Beca just rolled her eyes, turning as she heard a pair of heels clicking towards them. It was Aubrey who was grinning from ear to ear, Bella in hand, Mia held against her shoulder, Ashley, Jessica and Flo in tow. 

“Good, you’re all here!” Aubrey smiled, “Right on time.”

“You’d have killed us if we weren’t!” Amy pointed out.

“True.” Aubrey smiled, but the threat was implied, “Alright, are we all ready to go?”

“Where’s Chloe?” Beca frowned, craning her neck to try and see her.

“Outside.” Aubrey replied, “You don’t get to see her until she’s walking down the aisle Mitchell.”

“Are you serious dude?” Beca groaned.

“It’s tradition.” Aubrey smiled tightly, “That’s that.” Beca just rolled her eyes, knowing better than to argue with Aubrey.

“Alright, places please!” Aubrey called, everyone falling into line without a question. 

Bella was at the front of the wedding party, Shelia behind her with Mia in her arms (Beca had wanted her to be part of the wedding party: “She’s family, it’d be weird if she wasn’t there.”, and this way Mia could be a flower girl and Aubrey could walk down the aisle with Stacie). They would be followed by Lily and Flo, then Amy and Emily, then Jessica and Ashley, and finally Stacie and Aubrey. Next would be Beca and her dad, and then… Chloe.
Beca could barely contain excitement.

Outside the hotel, Chloe was trembling a little. Not with fear, no. With excitement, with anticipation. Because this was it. This was her happily ever after.


Chloe was pulled from her thoughts by Ellie appearing from inside the hotel, “Hey. Is everything okay?” Chloe asked with a slight frown. Beca wasn’t having second thoughts was she?

“Yeah. God you look incredible…” Ellie’s smile was warm as Chloe blushed a little.

“What’re you doing here?” Chloe asked.

“I’m here to walk you down the aisle.” Ellie grinned. It had been decided months ago after Ellie had okayed it with Beca, not wanting her to feel weird about it. Beca had of course agreed enthusiastically, but neither of them had told Chloe, wanting it to be a surprise.

“What?!” Chloe stood there in disbelief, “Ellie you don’t have to do that…”

Ellie rolled her eyes as she placed her hands on Chloe’s arms, “Sweetie, I’m gonna say this for the millionth time, and maybe after today it’ll sink in a bit. You are my family, that means you get all the perks that come with it. Which means that there is someone to walk you down the aisle on your wedding day.”

Chloe said nothing as she wrapped her arms around Ellie, hugging her tightly. Ellie hugged her back, careful not to crumple Chloe’s dress as she did so.

“Thank you.” Chloe whispered into her shoulder, her voice thick from the tears she was holding back.

“You don’t need to thank me kid.” Ellie pulled back from the hug a little, sniffing a little herself, “Now c’mon, let’s go get you married before Aubrey bites my head for making you late to your wedding.” 

Ellie offered her arm out to Chloe who giggled, linking it whilst giving Ellie a grateful smile. If truth be told, Chloe had been dreading walking down the aisle on her own. Sure she could have asked Luke, but things were still a little weird between them, and Chloe didn’t think she was ready for them to be that close but she had invited him to the wedding nonetheless. But now, as she gave Ellie’s arm a gentle squeeze, it felt like the last piece had fallen into place.

“Ready?” Ellie asked as they stood just outside of the doors of the function room where the ceremony was being held.

“Ready.” Chloe grinned, hand tight around her bouquet, knowing that on the other side of these doors, at the end of the aisle was Beca waiting for her.

The doors opened as Beca’s version of “You Get My Love” played, the same version she had recorded for Chloe the night they got back together. It had been Chloe’s idea, arguing that it was them coming full circle, and Beca was never one to say no to the redhead when she was being so adorable. The Bellas waited for Chloe as they stood around the podium, all dressed in grape coloured v-neck floor length dresses and holding small bouquets of white tulips (Beca’s favourite that she had admitted with a blush). All except Cynthia-Rose who stood at the podium in a sharp suit, her tie and pocket square the same colour as the dresses, ready to officiate her friend’s wedding.

Chloe felt her breath catch in her throat as she saw Beca. Chloe was sure that she had never looked as beautiful as she did now. Beca was wearing a black suit with a white tulip attached to the lapel, a smart white shirt, a deep purple waistcoat and tie to match. Her hair sat in soft curls that framed her face, makeup dark in a way that brought out the blue in her eyes, dark lipstick making her teeth look a brilliant white as she grinned at Chloe, dazzling her in the way that she had so many times over the last eight years. It was the smile she had fallen in love with.

Beca’s heart pounded as she watched Chloe walk down the aisle towards her. God she was breathtaking. It was the first time Beca had seen the dress that Chloe had picked out nearly a year ago, marvelling at the way it somehow made Chloe look even more beautiful than normal. Her brilliant flame like hair was carefully tied back in a bun save for a few locks that hung by her cheeks to frame her face, encircled by what Beca could only describe as a halo of small white flowers and beads. Her makeup was soft and subtle, but brought out the brilliant blue in her eyes that had enthralled Beca in the first place and as she smiled widely at Beca the brunette noticed the way that the lip gloss she was wearing seemed to make her smile shine brighter than ever.

Chloe walked down the aisle, arm in Ellie’s the whole way. She walked past the old Barden Bellas that she and Beca had kept in touch with after the Worlds (including Catherine Junk who was already tearing up), past her friends from work, past Beca’s friends from work and her friends from her support group, past some of their old college friends, past Luke and Benji and Hank and Sheila and Bella and baby Mia, until at last she was stood in front of Beca. Ellie kissed Chloe’s cheek as she unhooked her arm and doing the same to Beca before taking her seat.

“Hi.” Beca breathed, taking Chloe’s hands in hers after Chloe had handed her bouquet to Aubrey to hold for her, as she grinned from ear-to-ear, unable to take her eyes off the woman who was only a few moments away from being her wife.

“Hi.” Chloe whispered giving Beca’s hands a squeeze, her grin mirroring Beca’s as their eyes met, sending the same tingle down her spine as it had when they first met and every time since.

“You look beautiful.” They said accidentally in unison, giggling and blushing a little as they did.

“Alright I’m gonna start before you two get anymore adorable and I just can’t function anymore.” Cynthia-Rose laughed lightly, Beca and Chloe beaming at each other. This was it.

“Queerly beloved, we are gathered here togay to witness the marriage of Beca Mitchell and Chloe Beale.” Chloe giggled as Beca rolled her eyes, a grin on her face. 

“What, it’s a gay wedding, what do you expect me to say?” Cynthia-Rose shrugged, smile wide.

“Okay, seriously, it is an honour to stand before you all today and officiate the wedding of two of the greatest people I have ever known. Beca and Chloe are two of my closest friends, and I know I speak for all the Bellas when I say that we are so happy that you guys are finally here.” There were nods and beaming smiles from all the Bellas behind Cynthia-Rose.

“Yeah we waited nearly a decade for you two idiots to figure it out!” Amy grumbled with a teasing smile, earning laughs from everyone in the room.

“It has been a privilege to watch the two of you go from strangers, to best friends, to something more. The road here has not been an easy one, but it has shown all of us that if you truly and deeply love someone then nothing can get in the way of that. Love always finds a way.” A tear slipped down Cynthia-Rose’s cheek as she smiled warmly at her friends, quickly wiping it away before continuing.

“Beca, Chloe, you guys helped make us a little family that would always have each others back, that we could be ourselves around, that would love us no matter what. You have both worked so hard to bring happiness and joy to other people’s lives so it is our greatest honour to be here today to give you guys the same. You guys have written your own vows right?” Cynthia-Rose asked, grateful to be able to take a minute to compose herself as Beca and Chloe nodded, Chloe smiling at Beca to go first.

“Chloe.” Beca grinned, giving her hands another soft squeeze, “Ever since you burst into my shower and forced me to sing for you there’s been this connection I can’t explain. And not just because I saw you naked before I even really knew your name.” She chuckled as Chloe blushed a little.

“I spent our college years loving you in secret, and I have spent years since loving you in the open and I don’t regret a single minute of it. You are by far the most beautiful, incredible, awe-inspiring woman that I have ever met, and just knowing that you love me back makes me the luckiest woman in the world. I vow to spend the rest of my life loving you the way that everybody should have been doing your whole life; wholly, unconditionally and irreversibly head over heels in love with the amazing person you are.” Beca finished, tears slipping down Chloe’s cheeks as she sniffed, still grinning broadly. Beca gently lifted her hand and wiped them away, cupping her cheek for a moment as she did before Chloe started her own vows.

“Beca.” Chloe started, taking a breath as she fought back her tears, “I spent most of my life feeling broken, feeling like I’d never fall in love and get a fairytale ending. And then I met you at an activities fair at Barden University, and years before we started dating I felt myself starting to heal. I have never in my life known someone who makes me feel like you do, I have never known anyone as kind and funny and patient and loving as you are. I spend every day wondering what on earth I did to deserve someone like you in my life and every day grateful that you agreed to join the Bellas even if you were too cool for that.” Beca laughed softly, hands in Chloe’s again as a tear rolled down her cheek.

“You are my soulmate Beca, the person who makes me feel safe and loved even on my worst days. You are my reason for living, the reason I get up in the morning, and I promise to show you just how lucky and grateful I am to have you in my life for as long as I live. I love you with every inch of me and more, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Chloe finished her vows, the Bellas crying softly as Cynthia-Rose cleared her throat a little to try and get through the last of the ceremony.

“Do um, do we have the rings?” She sniffed, grinning as Bella all but leaped off her seat and brought them on the ring cushion to Beca and Chloe.

“Thank you sweetie.” Chloe smiled warmly as she took Beca’s and Beca took hers, Bella bounding back to her seat proud that she’d managed to do her job exactly right.

“Do you Rebecca Lauren Mitchell promise to take Chloe as your wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?” Cynthia-Rose asked.

“I do.” Beca grinned, slipping the wedding band onto Chloe’s ring finger.

“Do you Chloe Elizabeth Beale promise to take Beca as your wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?” Cynthia-Rose asked.

“I do.” Chloe nodded, taking her turn to place the ring on Beca’s finger.

“With these rings you commit yourselves to each other for all eternity, they are a symbol of the love you have for each other and the commitment you have made. It is the greatest pleasure of my life to pronounce the two of you married.” Cynthia-Rose’s grin was huge as she looked at them both, “Now kiss her you aca-nerd.”

Beca needed no more prompting as she wound her arms around Chloe’s neck, pulling her into a deep kiss. The noise in the room was deafening as the assembled group of family and friends clapped, cheered and whistled, all of them emotional and overjoyed that Beca and Chloe were now married. Neither of the newly-weds noticed however as they lost themselves in each other, Chloe’s arms tightly wrapped around Beca’s waist as she pulled her as close as physically possible, tongue pressed against the brunette’s as Beca kept both hands on the back of Chloe’s neck, never wanting this kiss to end. Eventually they broke about to breathe, grinning like idiots as they did so, forehead’s gently pressed together.

“Hey there Mrs Mitchell.” Beca breathed, fingers playing with the baby hairs on the back of Chloe’s neck as she beamed at her wife. Wife. Even thinking that made her heart skip.

“Hey yourself Mrs Mitchell.” Chloe was unable to help the giggle that escaped her lips as she looked at Beca. Beca Mitchell, her wife. Who would have thought it?

The music for them to walk down the aisle started to play, pulling them at last from their little bubble. Beca easily intertwined her fingers with Chloe’s, grins on both of their faces as people applauded and threw petals over them as they walked past. They were giggling as they piled into a waiting car, heading for the Conrad’s estate again. Stacie had asked her parents if they could use the vast back lawn to have the reception and her parent’s had agreed whole-heartedly. Neither Beca or Chloe had seen it yet, Aubrey insisting that it be a surprise.

Beca turned to look at Chloe as the car started to make it’s way to their destination, a wide grin on her lips, “I love you so much Chloe.” She mumbled, tucking one of the loose hanging locks of Chloe’s hair behind her ear as she stroked her cheek with her thumb, “I’m so happy you agreed to be my wife.”

“I love you too Becs.” Chloe’s eyes glittered as she rested her hand on Beca’s thigh, “I’m the luckiest woman in the whole world.”

Aubrey had made sure that Beca and Chloe’s driver had taken the scenic route to the estate to make sure that their guests arrived before they did. It had been a beautiful ninety minute drive but Beca and Chloe had barely noticed the scenery, having eyes only for each other as they sat as close as could be managed, their hands aching with the need to touch the other, whether it was hand-in-hand, hand resting on their neck, their thigh, anywhere they could reach. When they eventually pulled up outside the huge house, Beca turned lifted her head from Chloe’s shoulder, a soft smile in her lips.

“Here we are. You ready to go and celebrate with our family?” Beca asked, fingers tracing small patterns on Chloe’s thigh through her dress. 

“Yeah.” Chloe grinned, leaning in to kiss Beca again, “In a minute.” She mumbled against her lips, a deep kiss shared between them before Beca reluctantly pulled away and climbed out of the car, holding the door open and a hand out for her wife.

“C’mon Chloe Mitchell, let’s go get our groove on.” Beca grinned.

Chloe giggled as she took her hand, pulling Beca into her arms after she had gotten out of the car, “I will never get tired of hearing you call me that.” She whispered, gently running a hand through Beca’s hair.

“I will never get tired of saying it.” Beca lifted Chloe’s left hand to her lips and kissed over the rings she had given her. 

Chloe simply grinned as she took Beca’s hand and followed her through the house, pausing just before they walked out of the patio doors.

“Ten minutes?” She smiled as she pulled Beca out of sight of the doors, “It’ll be the last ten minutes of you I get all to myself tonight.”

“Ten minutes.” Beca agreed, her arms slipping around Chloe’s waist easily.

Beca rested her head on Chloe’s shoulder, feeling Chloe rest her head on hers as her hands rested on the small of Beca’s back. They swayed gently to non-existent music, enjoying the peace and quiet that fell over them as they stood in each others embrace, totally and utterly content for the first time in what felt like a lifetime. After Beca’s watch beeped, the short brunette pulled back to look at Chloe, a soft smile on her lips as she kissed her.

“C’mon. If we keep Bree waiting any longer her head might explode.” Beca chuckled as she pulled back.

Chloe simply nodded, laughing softly as she took Beca’s hand again, the two of them stepping out through the patio doors to the cheers and applause of their family and friends. They stood there in quiet, happy shock as they saw the effort that Aubrey and the Bellas (under the strict supervision of the blonde former captain) had gone to in order to transform the back lawn into the perfect place for their wedding reception.

A huge gazebo had been set up with a temporary wooden floor in place to provide an even surface for walking and dancing. A temporary stage had been set up at the back for the musical performances of the evening, and the whole structure was adorned with warm yellow fairy lights. Each table was neatly set with a pressed white table cloth and deep purple runner, a vase of white tulips and lavender in the centre of the table that matched Chloe’s bouquet perfectly. It was picturesque and intimate, the perfect way to spend an evening celebrating their wedding.

Chloe pulled Aubrey into a tight hug as she reached her, tears in her eyes, “Aubrey it’s perfect!” She exclaimed.

“I’m so glad you like it.” Aubrey grinned back, wiping a tear from her eye as Chloe pulled back, “Like I said, I want today to be perfect for you. It’s the least you deserve. Both of you.” She nodded to Beca who was beaming as she wrapped Aubrey in her arms.

“It’s awesome dude, I love it.” Beca mumbled into Aubrey’s shoulder, sniffing as she broke the hug, “I um, I can’t thank you enough for all this. For everything you’ve done for us.”

Aubrey poked her in the shoulder affectionately, holding back her tears, “Don’t go soft on me now Mitchell, I want this make up to last me at least another hour before I cry it off.” She turned to the Bellas who were gathered behind her, “Alright ladies, places!”

The Bellas quickly filed onto stage, all of them grinning so wide that their faces might split in half as Beca lead Chloe to the dance floor that had been set up. Benji cleared his throat as he held a microphone, having been dubbed the MC for the evening.

“Ladies and gentleman if I may have your attention please? Performing A Thousand Years, the Barden Bellas would like to proudly and lovingly introduce for the first time Mrs and Mrs Mitchell for their first dance.” Benji gave Beca and Chloe a thumbs up as the Bellas hummed a soft harmony

Beca took Chloe’s hand, her other resting on her waist as Chloe’s free hand rested on her shoulder, bodies flush as they started to dance, beautifully and perfectly as in sync with each other as they had been since the day they met.

“Heart beat fast/ Colours and promises.” Aubrey lead them into the song, smiling at her friends, her sisters as they had eyes only for each other.

“How to be brave?/ How can I love when I’m afraid to fall?” Stacie joined her wife singing the verse, gently slipping her hand into hers and giving it a soft squeeze. 

“But watching you stand alone/ All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.” Emily sang alongside them, the other Bellas harmonising softly behind them.

“One step closer.” Ashley sang solo as the Bellas fell back into harmony for a moment before collectively singing:

“I have died every day waiting for you/ Darling don’t be afraid/ I have loved you for a thousand years/ I’ll love you for a thousand more.” Chloe and Beca danced in time to the music, eyes on each other, seemingly in a little bubble of their own as Beca twirled Chloe, the redhead giggling softly as she spun.

“Time stands still/ Beauty in all she is/ I will be brave/ I will not let anything take away/ What’s standing in front of me.” Aubrey, Stacie and Emily sang, the youngest Bella no longer able to hold back her tears as she watched Chloe and Beca so in love and content in each other’s arms. Cynthia-Rose stood next to her and put a hand on her shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

“Every breath/ Every hour has come to this.” Cynthia-Rose joined the verse as the Bellas one-by-one started to succumb to their tears but still singing regardless.

“One step closer.” Ashley belted, Jessica’s hand gripped tight in her own as both of them had tears rolling down their cheeks.

“I have died every day waiting for you/ Darling don’t be afraid/ I have loved you for a thousand years/ I’ll love you for a thousand more/ And all along I believed I would find you/ Time has brought your heart to me/ I have loved you for a thousand years/ I’ll love you for a thousand more.” The Bellas despite their tears were in perfect harmony as usual as they sang to their friends, grins on their faces as Beca and Chloe danced, wrapped in each other’s arms like they were the only two people in the room.

“One step closer.” Ashley belted again.

“One step closer.” Cynthia-Rose echoed in much the same fashion. At this point, the Bellas were all stood hand in hand, huddled close together as the tears poured down their cheeks, all of them overwhelmingly happy for Beca and Chloe.

“I have died every day waiting for you/ Darling don’t be afraid/ I have loved you for a thousand years/ I’ll love you for a thousand more/ And all along I believed I would find you/ Time has brought your heart to me/ I have loved you for a thousand years/ I’ll love you for a thousand more.” The Bellas finished with a soft harmony as Beca pulled Chloe in for a kiss, deep and passionate, happy to have the love of her life in her arms.

They broke apart and joined the rest of the crowd in applauding the Bellas, Beca’s back pressed against Chloe’s front, the redhead’s arm around her waist. The Bellas took a moment to take in the applause before rushing off the stage to pull Beca and Chloe into a group hug, not a dry eye among any of them as they did so. The group hug eventually broke apart and tears were dried as they all took their seats.

It was an incredible dinner with stories and laughs and reminiscing. Beca’s dad made a moving speech that embarrassed Beca no end but she was nonetheless grateful for. Before the main course was served, Aubrey stood up, clinking the side of her glass as they all looked to her, the blonde turning so she was looking at Beca and Chloe, a soft smile on her lips.

“I just wanted to say a few words.” Aubrey beamed as Amy sighed.

“You’ve said more then a few words today cap! My head still hurts from where you hit me with your clipboard!” Amy called, rubbing the back of her head for emphasis.

Aubrey just ignored her but couldn’t resist the urge to roll her eyes, “Chloe, you went from my freshman year roommate to my sister. Beca, you went from the infuriating alt-girl I bumped heads with constantly to one of my closest friends. You have both taught me so much; how to let people in, how to be less uptight, how to lean on others when I need help. I am forever indebted and in awe of the two of you and how incredible you are. To see you sat here, side by side on your wedding day, wearing those ridiculous grins, after everything that you have been through to get here I could not be more proud and more privileged to know you. I love you so much, and I wish you nothing but I life time of happiness. To Beca and Chloe Mitchell.”
Aubrey raised her glass as the newly weds wiped tears from their eyes, everyone doing the same and echoing the phrase: “To Beca and Chloe Mitchell!”
Chloe got up and went and hugged Aubrey tightly, Beca close behind her, “Didn’t realise I meant so much to you cap.” Beca grinned as Aubrey rolled her eyes, pulling Beca in for a hug.

“Shut up. Let me have one night where I say nice things about you and then I promise I’ll never do it again.” Aubrey mumbled, tears on her cheeks.
Benji nodded at Beca, an unspoken question asked and answered when Beca nodded her head. Pulling away from Aubrey, she walked over to where her wife was sat, kissing the top of her head before heading towards the stage.

“What’re you doing?” Chloe asked, an affectionate frown on her face.

“You’ll see.” Beca winked as she followed Benji up onto the stage. The lights dimmed slightly as Beca pulled up a stool, her old and slightly battered guitar in hand as she adjusted the mic stand to the correct height. A projector whirred into life, casting a beam of light onto the screen next to the short brunette.

“Um, hi.” She mumbled into the microphone, suddenly feeling like a shy teenager again as she settled her guitar into place, “So there’s this song that means a lot to me, because it’s the first song that Chloe and I sung together in the showers at Barden, which is way less romantic than it sounds because she just burst in without being invited and I didn’t even know her.” A ripple of laughter spread through the crowd as Chloe blushed a little, beaming, “Anyway, it’s not a really a wedding song, but it is one that means a lot to me. So Chloe, this one’s for you, for all the memories that we have together and for all the memories we’re going to make, I will always think of you whenever I hear this.”

Beca’s guitar skills were a little known fact amongst the Bellas, but it wasn’t a surprise that she was good at it as she strummed the opening chords.

“You shout it out/ But I can’t hear a word you say/ I’m talking loud not saying much/ I’m criticised but all your bullets ricochet/ Shoot me down, but I get up.” Beca started as the images started to play on the screen. Chloe gasped softly as she watched the screen, heart pounding.

It was them, every little moment that was captured on film: the day they met at the activities fair, Bellas practice in their first year, their second, their third, their fourth, bits from their performances as they danced together, riff offs with them vamping off each other, Beca running into her arms in Copenhagen, Bellas holidays, the good parts of the USO tour, Christmas’, birthdays, Thanksgiving. Every part of their history captured in photos and videos, some from Barden Universities prospectus team, some from official judges of ICCA competitions, others from Gale and John’s recordings and the most intimate and perhaps Chloe’s favourites from the Bellas themselves. It was beautiful.

“I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose/ Fire away, Fire away/ Ricochet, you take your aim/ Fire away, fire away.” Beca sang, her eyes meeting Chloe’s as she grinned broadly, “You shoot me down, but I won’t fall/ I am Titanium/ You shoot me down, but I won’t fall/ I am Titanium.”
The photos and videos continued to roll until Beca finished the song, blushing a little as people applauded and cheered loudly, not used to performing solo. She quickly ducked of the stage and was met by a tearful happy Chloe who had gotten to her feet.

“Becs, that was amazing…” Chloe grinned as she cupped her face in her hands, “Where did you find all of that stuff? That photo of us at the activities fair?”
Beca shrugged, bashful but grinning like an idiot, “I just asked around, loads of people had footage of the gigs and stuff, I asked John Gail for some stuff which was… an experience. They used that photo of us in the Barden prospectus for the next year of intake to show them what the activities fair looked like, and I lucked out because they still had it.”

“I love you Beca.” Chloe beamed, having nothing more eloquent to say in that moment, “I love you so much.” She leant in and kissed her, earning wolf whistles from the Bellas which went ignored by the newly weds.

An hour later, Beca watched as her dad invited Chloe to dance, taking her to the dance floor, laughing a little as her father proved conclusively that any dancing and music genes that she had inherited did not come from him. Ellie happily plonked herself down next to her daughter, an arm around her shoulder as she grinned at her.

“Are you having a good time baby?” Ellie asked, Beca not once taking her eyes off her wife as Chloe tired to teach Hank a few dance moves.

“Are you kidding?” Beca chuckled as she watched them, “This is the greatest night of my life. Look at her. That amazing goofball that is trying to teach my tone deaf dad to dance is my wife.”

“She sure is.” Ellie chuckled, giving Beca’s shoulder a gentle squeeze, “I’m so glad you’re happy Beca. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.”
Beca smile grew as she gently leant back against her mother, head resting on her shoulder, “Thanks mom. I really am…”

Chloe spent nearly twenty minutes trying to teach Hank some basic dance moves and he seemed to have somewhat mastered the disco finger by the time Chloe walked away giggling. She gently pressed a kiss to Beca’s forehead, cupping her cheek with one hand.

“I love you Beca Mitchell.” She grinned, face a little red from dancing.

“I love you too Chloe Mitchell.” Beca grinned, kissing the palm of Chloe’s hand as it was pressed to her cheek.
Chloe kissed her again before grinning again as she headed for the stage. Beca frowned softly, a bemused frown on her face as she watched Chloe whisper something to Benji who nodded enthusiastically before she got onto the stage.

“Hi everyone!” Chloe grinned brightly, “I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming, Becs and I really appreciate all of you being here with us, tonight has been amazing. I know we’re kinda coming to the end of the night, but there’s one thing I wanted to do first.” Her brilliant blue gaze turned to Beca as she grinned wider, “Beca, I love you. I will never ever be able to tell you just how much even if I live forever. You are my whole world, and this song is for you, the love of my life.”

Beca sniffed as her eyes met Chloe’s, still grinning like an idiot as she listened to Chloe’s speech. She loved her more than life itself, and she couldn’t believe her luck that she’d married such a lovable dork.

You put all your faith in dreams/ You gave me the world that I wanted/ What did I do to deserve you?/ I follow your steps with my feet/ I walk on the road that you started/ I need you to know that I heard you, every word.” Chloe’s eyes never once left Beca’s as she sang to her as if she was the only other person in the room.

“I’ve waited way too long to say/ Everything that you mean to me/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you now/ I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you the truth/ I am everything that I am because of you.” Beca’s eyes welled with tears as she listened to the lyrics and lost herself in Chloe’s voice,

“I, I’ve carried this song in my mind/ Listen it’s echoing in me/ But I haven’t helped you to hear it/ We, we’ve only got so much time/ I’m pretty sure it would kill me/ If you didn’t know that the pieces of me are pieces of you.” Chloe felt a tear slip down her cheek as she poured ehr heart and soul into the song, wanting Beca to know that she meant every damn word.

“I’ve waited way too long to say/ Everything that you mean to me/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you now/ I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you the truth/ I am everything that I am because of you/ I have a hero whenever I need one/ I just look up to you and I see one/ I’m a woman ‘cause you taught me to be one/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you now/ I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you the truth/ I am everything that I am/ Whoa, whoa/ In case you don’t live forever let me tell you the truth/ As long as I’m here as I am, so are you.”

Chloe finished the song a little breathless after pouring her every vocal ability into it. Beca slowly made her way to the redhead who stood on the stage above her, hands on her waist as she lifted her, deceptively strong despite her small frame as she held Chloe in the air above her head for a moment, beaming at her.

“God I love you Chloe.” She grinned, Chloe’s hands reaching down to cup her face, “You are the love of my damn life you beautiful dork.”

Chloe giggled as Beca gently lowered her so her feet were on the floor but not for a second moving her hands from her hips. Chloe brushed Beca’s hair from her face as she smiled warmly, other hand resting on the back of her neck, “I meant it all Beca. You’re my hero, you know that right?”

“As long as I don’t have to wear spandex I can live with that.” Beca grinned, loving the way that Chloe’s laugh made her eyes light up.

“I love you weirdo.” She grinned, running a hand through Beca’s hair.

“I love you too dork.” Beca leant in, rubbing her nose gently against Chloe’s, “Thanks for marrying me today.”

Chloe giggled at Beca’s dorkiness, “Anytime Beca. You’re stuck with me now.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me.” Beca grinned as she pulled Chloe into a deep kiss.

Finally, they were happy. Finally, they had their fairytale ending.

The years passed quickly and easily for the former Barden Bellas.

Jessica and Ashley moved to France a year after Beca and Chloe’s wedding, Jessica opening a private practice and Ashley working for the foreign consulate. By the time they’d lived there a year they’d had their son Harry and were blissfully happy.

Lilly continued for undercover work for the FBI and although the Bellas very rarely saw or heard from here, they knew whatever she was doing she was happy, perhaps a little too happy…

Cynthia-Rose worked hard over the three years following Beca and Chloe’s wedding and eventually opened her own private jet company, flying a-list celebrities all over the world. She’d become close friends with Rhianna much to the overwhelming jealousy of the Bellas.

Amy was still running a surprisingly successful line of one-woman shows that were a huge hit in Las Vegas, and the Australian performer had found not one but four fabulously wealthy and hunky boyfriends to keep her happy (”For now!” She would always qualify).

Flo’s juice company “Go With The Flo” had taken off over the last three years on an international scale, and not only was she able to send money to her family back in Guatemala, she was also able to set them up with flights and housing in order for them to move to America where she could see them more.

Emily and Benji were living a life of domestic bliss in Los Angeles, Emily’s second album shattering the records her first one had set, and Benji getting work for big movie company’s in Hollywood. Three years on from the wedding and they were getting ready to welcome their first child into the world, much to everyone’s excitement.

Stacie and Aubrey were still living in New York, happily growing and nurturing their family. Aubrey now oversaw four branches of the Lodge of Fallen Leaves and was looking into opening three more, but after she was done being pregnant with their third child (they were hoping for a boy this time). Stacie was gaining international renown as she dedicated her lab time to finding an easier way for queer couples to conceive, frustrated by the lack of options that she and Aubrey had faced.

And Beca and Chloe? Well, they were still in New York too. They had moved from their studio apartment two years after their wedding after Chloe had given birth to their daughter Brooke. Chloe had taken to pregnancy like it was the easiest thing in the world, and after only three hours in labour (all much to Aubrey’s chagrin) Beca and Chloe held their daughter in their arms for the first time. Now a year later, Beca was the co-owner of Twilight Records which gave her much more control over her working hours, and Chloe was now producing shows for Broadway, although since Brooke had arrived she was only working part time.

It was a sunny August morning when Chloe woke up to the smell of pancakes, frowning softly as she sat up in bed, a smile on her face. She swung her legs from her bed and stumbled downstairs to the kitchen, unable to help the grin that spread across her face at the sight that greeted her. Beca stood at the stove with an apron tied around her waist and flour on her cheeks as she flipped a pancake, eighteen month old Brooke sat in her highchair nearby, also covered in flour and flecks of batter as she furious stirred the small bowl of batter that Beca had given her.

“Mama!” Brooke beamed as she saw Chloe, sticky hands making grabbing motions at her as Chloe grinned, scooping her out of her highchair, not giving a damn about the messy state her daughter was in as she kissed her cheek.

“Good morning Brookey. What on earth are you doing?” Chloe beamed as Beca smiled warmly at her, setting the freshly cooked pancake on a plate.

“Helping with pancake!” Brooke beamed, sporting the same crop of flame red hair that Chloe did.

“Oh really? And who’s idea was that?” Chloe raised a teasing eyebrow at Beca who shrugged with a grin.

“I figured it’s never too early for the kid to learn how to make pancakes.” She grinned as she pressed a soft kiss to Chloe’s lips, “Besides, we thought you might want breakfast in bed for a change, didn’t we peanut?”

“Uh huh.” Brooke nodded, before pointing in the direction of the upstairs, “Go bed!” She demanded, Chloe chuckling as she kissed her daughter again.

“How about I go sit on the sofa and we cuddle up under a blanket whilst mommy finishes the pancakes, then we can pretend your in bed with me?” Chloe smiled at her daughter who nodded enthusiastically, “Yeah? Great! Let’s wash these sticky fingers then.”

Once Brooke was cleaned up, Chloe settled with her on the couch, picking up the TV remote, “Shall we watch something Brooke?” She asked, knowing full well what her daughter was going to ask for.

“Mommas!” Brooke cheered. For as long as the young girl could remember, Beca and Chloe (okay Chloe) had played her videos of Bella performances from years ago. Brooke knew her mommas and her aunties were all in them and loved being able to see them whenever she wanted.

“You got it Brooke.” Chloe laughed as she found a video of the performance from their first ICCA final win.

Beca groaned loudly as she walked into the room, a large pile of pancakes on the plate in her hands, “Do we have to watch this again?”

“Yes!” Brooke frowned. Chloe swore that Brooke had inherited Beca’s frown.

“Fine.” Beca sighed dramatically as she sat next to Chloe, handing her the plate of pancakes and a fork, keeping another fork for herself as they shared the huge pile.

Chloe sighed contentedly as she sat between her wife and her daughter, causing Beca to look up from where her head rested on Chloe’s shoulder.

“You okay baby?” She asked, a soft loving smile on her face.

“Yeah.” Chloe beamed, running a hand through Brooke’s hair, “I’m just marveling at how lucky I am to have the two best girls in the whole world.”

“You’re such a dork.” Beca rolled her eyes as she pressed a soft kiss to her lips, “We’re so lucky to have you. I love you Chlo.”

“I love you too Becs.” Chloe grinned, “And the two of you are stuck with me now, no danger there.”

“You promise?” Beca grinned back.

“Forever and always my love.” Chloe promised.