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The Switch

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A/N - Here we go, mid week update as promised. Thanks to my beta for the read through. And thanks to everyone who is still reading along. I appreciate each and every single review, read and PM. I'm really glad this story has got under the skin for a few people.

Stay safe everyone x


.oOo. Chapter Eighteen .oOo.

Friday

message from luke.b, to becky.m – 07.41 – Thinking of you today. I have no words to offer as comfort only that I'm so proud of you for all that you've done for Jessie. She's a true testament to you as a person. I know you have to hand her over to the Mitchem's today and I'm so terribly sorry that this had to happen like this and can only hope, in the future, that she finds a way to keep in touch forever. I'm here, if you need anything. Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 08.16 – Amy's messaged me, but I told her to leave you alone today. Didn't think you needed that. Am here, when you are ready. Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 12.05 – Can't concentrate until I know you're okay. It's me, a one word response will be enough. Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 16.09 – You okay mate? Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 18.52 – If you need some company, I'm just going to pick up some food. I can come by your place if you need me? Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 20.45 – Come over any time. Door is open, beer is cold, shoulder is ready. Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 23.18 – I'm sorry you're hurting. You aren't alone and please, I beg you, don't disappear on me. Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 11.59 – I'm staying up, going to work for a bit if you just want to come over and lose yourself in the music. No need to talk. Luke x

Saturday

message from beca.m, to luke.b – 04.18 – J's gone. They came and took her from me. 2nd Jess I've lost thru no fault of my own. Fuck this shit. I'm taking Mon off, k?
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 04.26 – Can't imagine what you're going through. I love you mate and wish that were enough. Fine for Monday but keep in touch. Luke x
message from beca.m, to luke.b – 05.39 – Might come by later
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 10.58 – I'm home all weekend. Luke x

Sunday

message from luke.b, to becky.m – 13.20 – I've made too much food for lunch. Want to come and share so we can talk? Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 18.36 – Amy's messaged. She's been to your apartment a couple of times over the weekend and can't get hold of you and you're not answering your phone. Just drop me a message and let me know you're still breathing. Luke x
message from beca.m, to luke.b – 23.44 – druuunck
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 23.46 – Okay, go sleep it off. See you Tuesday. Love you, Luke x

Tuesday

message from luke.b, to becky.m – 10.25 – Are you still coming into work today? Luke x
message from luke.b, to becky.m – 11.01 – If you are, can you bring Starbucks? Luke x

Luke had just placed his phone on the desk when it began to ring and the sound of a tinny, but upbeat, God Save The Queen theme tune echoed around his studio. He glanced down to see who was calling, noting it was a withheld number and decided to ignore it.

He turned to concentrate on his laptop screen, wondering if Beca was going to show up that morning or if he was going to have to go around to his brother's apartment and knock on the door until she answered. He had a spare key but was reluctant to use it unless he felt Beca was in true danger.

He was just getting engrossed in a demo recording of a new group he was hoping to assign to Beca when he heard God Save The Queen again. Frowning, he glanced down at this phone to see the same withheld number message. Ignoring it for the second time, he returned to the screen only for it to immediately ring once again.

"Luke Bryant." He said, a little hastily into the phone as soon as he'd snatched it up, deciding to answer it to tell the caller to go away.

"Is that Mr Lucas James Bryant?"

"Yes. Speaking." Luke said, wondering who was middle naming him.

"This is Officer Rosenberg with Hollywood Community Police Department, a division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Do you know a Miss Rebeca Mitchell?"

"Yes, she's my friend." Luke gulped, grimacing against the feeling it was bad news he was about to be told.

"Miss Mitchell has to be released into the custody of a responsible adult and, although it took a while, she has eventually given us your name."

"Um, released? I'm sorry, I'm not following."

"Are you able to come down to the station this morning with some identification for both you and Miss Mitchell?" Officer Rosenberg asked.

"Is Beca all right?"

"Sir, if you'd like to come down to the station, we'll be able to fill in the paperwork and look to get your friend released into your custody. We're at one three fifty eight north Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood."

"I will, but can you please tell me if my friend is all right?" Luke spoke evenly.

"She is now. We found her in the early hours of Monday morning. She was extremely intoxicated and agitated and threw a stone ornament from Folkers Park through the window of a disused music shop."

"What's her booking status?" Luke asked.

"Miss Mitchell is not going to be arraigned before a judge at present, although her unwillingness to comply should suggest otherwise. I understand there have been some family matters that may be affecting her at this-"

"-Yes, she's just lost her child. I've been trying to get hold of her for days, but she's not responded to me. I'm sorry that she has caused some damage to property. Is there a penalty to pay for this?"

"Miss Mitchell will be required to pay for the broken window, and she may be subpoenaed to court if the fine is not paid with two weeks."

"I understand." Luke said. "Are you able to take a payment at the station?"

"Sir?"

"If I pay for the fine today, will that clear her name?"

"It's not for us to decide that Mr Bryant. Her docket will be picked up by the courts next week. Although…" Officer Rosenberg lowered his voice slightly. "… I am sure it would look better for Miss Mitchell if the fine were to be paid promptly if the matter is passed to the courts."

"Okay, thank you." Luke said, sensing a bribe style arrangement.

"Are you able to come down here today?"

"Yes, I'm on my way. Please tell Beca I'm on my way. Thank you, Officer Rosenberg." Luke said, ending the call rather abruptly. He picked up his wallet, sunglasses and his half-eaten breakfast bar and headed out of his office, mentally planning the best way to get to Beca's apartment to get some identification for her.

'What have you done?' He thought to himself as he decided an Uber, whilst not the cheapest option, would certainly be the quickest if the traffic was forgiving.

The Uber was just pulling up as he stepped out into the bright sunshine and he pushed his sunglasses onto his face as he waved to get the driver's attention, hoping he wasn't going to be a chatty driver as he suddenly wasn't in the mood for small talk.

message from luke.b, to amy.h – 11.24 – Morning Amy, have you heard from Beca today? Luke
message from amy.h, to britboy – 11.26 – Not since Thursday last week. Whaddup?
message from luke.b, to amy.h – 11.27 – I'm just about to go and pick her up but just wondered if you'd spoken with her. I'll catch up with you later. Luke
message from amy.h, to britboy – 11.28 – Cool bananas.

Luke arrived at Beca's apartment just after mid-day and used his spare key to go inside. Immediately, he was hit with a wall of chaos which he'd never seen before in any aspect of Beca's life. Her car was always kept clean, there wasn't even a tissue left in one of the cup holders. Her workstation was always meticulously tidy and orderly and usually Beca and Jessie kept the apartment extremely uncluttered; they didn't have a lot of belongings anyway and Beca had always attributed her time in the van to keeping anywhere she lived in order. Normally, everything was neat as a pin and very clean and today… today was the complete opposite.

"Oh Beca…" Luke murmured, as he moved a trail of clothes, paperwork and more than one used bath towel to the side so he could walk into the main room. He saw piles of Jessie's clothes and toys leaning haphazardly against the walls and on the kitchen counter. He heard a dripping coming from the small kitchen area and peered around the corner hesitantly to see the refrigerator door was wide open.

Blanching, he pulled up the neckline of his tee shirt and covered his nose as he saw the now rotting food dripping onto the tiled floor, each splash sending out a tiny puff of stench as it hit the mouldy puddle.

"Oh God." Luke's stomach clenched. He looked around the room, suddenly afraid of what he might find next. The closet door was open, and the bed was neatly made and almost looked out of place in the messy room. Every cupboard door was open, every drawer was laying haphazardly on the floor and everything was scattered about the room.

Knowing he had a job to do, Luke made his way over to the small bureau that usually housed most of their clothes and all their important paperwork. He felt a little guilty as he pulled the top drawer fully open and rooted around for something to use to identify Beca. He soon found a packet of documents and quickly realised that Beca had been through it recently as all of Jessie's documents were missing.

Closing the drawer again, he grasped that in the last few days, Beca's life had turned to absolute mush. He winced as it hit him that she'd just given up and he mentally kicked himself for not getting over to see her sooner. As his eyes swept the room, he saw her small purse wedged into the back of the sofa and quickly walked over to pick it up, opening and scanning the contents, noting her wallet and cell phone were still in there.

Taking in the rest of the room and the clutter that was scattered everywhere and he shook his head sadly. She'd been suffering and he'd not really noticed just how badly. She usually had such a tough exterior that he'd forgotten that, underneath, she was terrified. He saw a couple of Jessie's hand drawn pictures placed neatly on the rickety end table and he felt a wave of emotion flood over him. He knew he needed to bail his friend out, in more ways than one.

Arriving at the police station almost an hour later, Luke asked for Officer Rosenberg and dealt with the necessary security and identification checks before enquiring about how to pay Beca's fine. He knew if she heard him offer to pay for it, she'd only protest, and he decided it would be easier to deal with her wrath at him stepping up to do that rather than spend two hours of back and forth arguing where one of them would usually end up red in the face. He had just placed his credit card back in his wallet when he caught sight of Officer Rosenberg, out of the corner of his eye, opening the door and indicating a small figure to go through.

"Beca?" Luke asked, barely recognising his friend as she walked painfully slowly towards him. She looked like she hadn't slept in days and she was beyond filthy.

"Hi." Beca said in the quietest voice Luke had ever heard.

"Can I take her home?" Luke quickly asked the nearest police officer who nodded his head towards one of his colleagues. He could see she was about to fall apart.

"Can I help you sir?" One of the desk sergeants asked.

"Yes please. Am I able to take my friend home?"

"You can." The sergeant said easily. "Are you willing to supervise her for twenty-four hours?"

"Of course."

"Please sign here."

Luke untwirled the pen that was attached to the front desk and signed the document that was placed in front of him. He handed the form back to the desk sergeant.

"Has she been charged with anything?" He asked.

"No. She's lucky she got off with a caution and the fine for breaking the window."

"I've got to pay for that." Beca said quietly, pulling her sleeves down over her hands. Luke saw that her knuckles were bloody.

"I've taken care of that." Luke said bluntly and held up his hand when Beca opened her mouth to say something. "No, you do not get to comment on that."

Beca blinked at him a couple of times.

"Are we free to leave?" Luke asked again.

"Yes sir." The officer nodded towards them both.

Luke reached out his hand and gently took Beca's arm. She flinched slightly as he began to pull her away towards the door to the Police Station. He didn't speak again until they were outside and that was only to quietly ask if she was all right. She nodded but didn't say anything. Unsure of what to do next, Luke called an Uber and was thankful there was one only two blocks away that arrived a couple of minutes later.

They didn't speak the entire ride home and Luke tipped the driver handsomely for not trying to force small talk. It was obviously, even to a stranger, that the pair were in no mood to talk.

Luke walked ahead of Beca, who followed her friend a couple of paces behind. They climbed the stairs in silence, the only sound was the rhythmic clonk of Beca's boots on the concrete steps that lead to her apartment.

Luke unlocked the door and pushed it open, flinching slightly at the smell that hit them as they entered the small space. He kicked the door shut with his foot.

"Thanks for bailing me out." Beca said, shrugging her shoulders slightly as she dug her hands in her pocket, wincing as the rough material snagged her sore knuckles.

"It's okay."

"I'll pay you back. As soon as I get some cash, I'll pay you back."

"Beca, just stop…" Luke put his hands up. "… not everything is about money. You don't have to pay everything back in a rush or at all. Just… take some time here. You've been through a lot."

"I've lost her." Beca said, her eyes immediately filling with tears. "They took her from me."

"I know." Luke said, pulling her into his arms and letting her cry on his shoulder for what seemed like eternity. "Want to tell me about it?"

Beca shook her head as she pulled away from him and sniffed.

"Not right now." She whispered, her voice raspy. She looked around at the state of the apartment as Luke watched her take it all in. He didn't say anything as her eyes narrowed as they swept over the piles of Jessie's things. She settled back into Luke's chest.

"May I suggest you take a bath?" He said after a minute or two.

"Huh?"

"A bath. I think you need one." He said.

"I mean, I guess…"

"And I'll order us some food and we can just hang out."

"There's some crackers in the-"

"-I think you need a bit more than a few crackers Beca."

"It's fine. I'm not hungry." Beca said and Luke could tell she was lying.

"You can't live like this Beca." He said, gently pushing her away from his chest so he could look at her.

"Like what?"

Luke simply nodded his head towards the main living area.

"I let the housework go a little." She stated lamely.

"A little?" Luke chuckled.

"For four years, I've had a reason to live smart, to keep a clean and orderly home, be it brick or on four wheels. What's the point now?" She said, her voice thick. "What's the point of any of this? No one is going to care if the laundry is done or if I make my bed or I've got food in or paid the bills. And what's the point of one hour every two weeks Luke? That's not enough. It's just going to confuse them more so it's probably best I just don't go."

"The point now is that you don't want to make Jessie feel guilty, or Alex for that matter."

"Huh?"

"Jessie had to leave, and you fall apart. How do you think either one of them is going to feel in ten, fifteen year's time, when they are old enough to make their own decisions and you've not bothered to turn up to one appointment with them and you live in a shit pit?"

"Luke, I-"

"-And you gave up bathing, and combing your hair because 'what's the point?'"

"I-"

"-And don't even get me started on the refrigerator!" He said, his voice rising slightly. "I looked earlier when I first got here, there's some unfriendly things in there and the door was wide open, so it's all gone off. And there's nothing in the cupboards for you to live on. I knew things were tight Beca, but you have to start taking better care of yourself."

"Why?"

"Because of everything."

"They took everything from me." Beca snapped, suddenly angry.

"Then damn well fight to get it back." Luke argued, matching Beca's tone. "We've lost her too. Amy and me. I know it's nothing compared to what you are going through but you have to fight for her."

"I don't have the energy right now."

"Okay, maybe not this minute but tomorrow, when you've had a hot meal, a good night's sleep and we've talked some more, you'll feel more positive. We'll discuss setting up an appeal and how we go about that.

"I don't have the money to-"

"-Not everything is about you having money Beca."

"Says you who has some!" Beca spat out.

"That's what you choose to think. I didn't have the easiest of starts, was never able to put down roots anywhere as we always travelled around so much. We always had to sell everything, get rid of toys we weren't ready to part with because we were moving six thousand miles away and the military wouldn't pay the shipping costs. I made a decision, despite not having much, to look after what I have. I save as much as I can because I also know what it's like to have nothing too."

"Is that why you don't talk about your family much? Except your brother?"

"No, I do talk about them, just not very much. I'm one of eight children Beca. Eight boys to be precise. I had it luckier than you, I know that, but I had to fight for attention from my parents. They are good people, just very busy and it doesn't sit well with me that Jessie and Alex are going to have to fight for you because you've given up on them before they were ready."

"I've not given up."

"Oh really?" Luke laughed. "Look, I love you... God, I love you. You're my best friend but bloody hell Beca, look at the state of this place."

Beca looked around the apartment again.

"I'm sorry." She said, her chin hitting her chest. "I've messed up. My head… I'm not in a good place."

"No need to apologise. Just stop worrying about how to pay for everything. I've got some money put aside and we can launch an appeal to get better access or if we can speak with the Mitchem's and see if they can be reasonable."

"I don't want to see them… her and David."

"I know you hate them right now, but you're going to have to find a way to work together. It's not going to be easy, but you also don't have to do this alone. I'm here, I've always been here." Luke said kindly, gently rubbing his hands up and down Beca's arms.

"Thank you."

"Go and bathe and when you are ready, we'll talk. Okay?"

"Okay." Beca nodded gently. She blinked slowly and Luke could see she was beyond exhausted.

"When did you last sleep? I mean, properly sleep."

Beca shrugged her shoulders and sighed heavily.

"Probably before the court case. I've caught some sleep but… not much." She started to yawn, as if to prove her point.

Luke didn't offer any comment to that, noting quickly that he needed to take charge as Beca really was incapable to making any decisions in that moment. He left her standing in the hallway and pushed open the bathroom door, pleased that there was nothing too scary hiding behind the door. He pulled open the bathroom cabinet, found a bottle of bubble bath and quickly began to fill the bath, liberally tipping in the contents of the mango and passionfruit concoction he vaguely remembered Amy buying for Beca's birthday the year before.

He saw her small frame come into the doorway as he swished his hand about in the water, frothing up the bubbles. Standing, he rooted around in the cupboard for a clean towel, noting that most of them were quite threadbare. He laid out the best one he could find on the toilet seat.

"Take your time." He said, as he pushed past her, closing the door behind him. "I'll just get you some clean clothes."

.oOo.

It was just starting to get dark by the time Beca emerged from the bathroom, looking calmer and a lot cleaner than she had done when she'd first gotten home. Luke had knocked quietly a couple of times to check she was okay, and she'd splashed the water to let him know she was still alive. She'd refilled the tub with hot water at least twice and couldn't recall the last time she'd spent so much time underwater. Not growing up with a bathtub meant that she still felt this was an absolutely luxury.

Luke had been busy while she'd been contemplating her life surrounded by fruity bubbles. He'd cleaned the kitchen, tidied the lounge and changed the small bed area. Realising she had less food than he'd first thought, he'd taken a trip to the local grocery store and bought her a few times to see her through the next couple of weeks. He'd cleaned the fridge mess, mopped the floors and straightened everything he could. He'd even found time to hurry down to the laundry room in the basement and had done two loads of laundry and put it away in what he hoped was the best place.

He was just closing the blinds to the outside world when he heard Beca switch off the bathroom light and step into the hallway.

"Whoa…" She said, immediately noticing the difference in her apartment.

"Come here, and I'll dry your hair for you." Luke said, holding out his hand to Beca, not really wanting to mention the work he'd done. "I changed the bedsheets while you were bathing. I could only find a Fancy Nancy duvet cover, but it is clean. I've ordered Chinese food; it'll be here in about half an hour."

"Luke, I don't know what to say." Beca said, reaching out for his hand before she lifted the lid on the small linen hamper that was tucked just behind the closet door and dumped her clothes inside. She smiled at the whimsical duvet cover that she'd gotten Jessie for Christmas. Jessie loved Fancy Nancy as, like the little girl herself, she also loved Paris, poodles, tutus and shoes.

"You don't need to say anything." He said kindly, pulling her over towards the couch. Beca settled on the small rug in front of the sofa and leant against Luke's legs as he sat down.

Luke gently rubbed Beca's hair with her towel until it was almost dry. Without being prompted, and because he could see her eyes were starting to droop, he dipped his hand into her purse and pulled out a hairbrush and began to detangle the large knots from Beca's hair. She leaned into his touch and as he moved to do the side of her head, she rested her head on his knee.

"Luke?"

"Yes?"

"Sometimes, I wish I wasn't gay."

"Why?"

"You'd be my perfect partner." She said simply and he watched as a single tear tracked itself halfway down her nose before noiselessly splashing onto the carpet below.

"I wish that too sometimes. We'd be good together."

"You don't take my shit."

"And you don't take mine." Luke smiled.

"I'd probably even put a wedding dress for you. We'd probably spend our days surrounded by music."

"Is that a bad thing?"

"We'd probably have a nice house with a yard."

"And room over the garage for Amy?"

"Yeah. Maybe a kid together."

"Maybe." Luke said.

"I've dreamt sometimes that you were Jessie's dad… Alex's dad."

"Beca…"

"Just be so much easier. I might not have lost her."

"You haven't lost her. We just have to work on Plan B."

Beca nodded slowly.

"I probably wouldn't have gotten arrested either."

"I have to say…" Luke muttered. "… not one of your finest moments. Amy…, I'd have expected it but not you. What happened?"

"I couldn't handle being in here. The walls were closing in. I went out for a walk, to clear my head. Bought some alcohol, I don't even remember what, but it was cheap, and it gave me gut ache."

"Serves you right."

"Yeah, I know. Anyway, I headed out to get more because I'm an asshole like that and walked down by Folkers Park and there's a small set of shops. I used to take Jessie down there sometimes as there's a pet shop and she liked to look through the window. There was a music shop next door which I used to go in sometimes. They were pretty cool if I needed to pawn my decks for a weekend, while I waited for my money to clear. Well, the shop's gone, closed up. Big sign in the window saying they'd gone out of business. But right next to the sign was a movie poster with her ladyship on there. And I just saw red. Literally."

"And you felt better for doing it?"

"Yeah."

"Really?"

"For a minute." Beca said meekly. "Someone called the Police on me and I just wanted to give up at that point."

"You can't give up now Beca. You've been everything for that little girl, and there's Alex and you need to get to know her too. I know it seems bleak at the moment, but I have a feeling that things will work out."

"I wish I had your faith."

"You've got to find the strength from somewhere Beca. You didn't give up after Jesse died. And your girls are still here, just… away at the moment."

"I'm not giving up."

"It sounds like you are."

"I'm just a sore loser." Beca smirked slightly and in that moment, Luke saw a twinkle in her eye that he hadn't seen for a long time.

"You can always call Chloe. You've got her number. I'm sure she would let you talk to the girls and she'll send pictures."

"I don't want to talk to him."

"You don't have to. You've never seen eye to eye with David so just leave him out of it. You've always seemed to get on better with Chloe."

"Used to. She stole my kid. A weak friendship can't survive something like that."

"You're going to have to find a way to make it work because you are connected with them now."

"Only for one hour every two weeks."

"If you keep up that attitude, then you're not going to get anywhere."

"They saw me as weak. In the court room, I mean. They saw me as-"

"-Okay, stop." Luke said, pushing her off of his knees. "Snap out of it Beca. No wonder you lost Jessie with this attitude."

"Luke!" Beca cried out.

"No. I don't care. You gave up before you started."

"How could I not?" Beca wailed. "She's a superstar and he's-"

"-She's a mother. Like you. She tried to organise time together."

"So you're saying this is my fault?"

"Yes."

"Thanks for the support Luke. I think you'd better leave."

"You can't kick me out."

"I think I just did."

"You can't kick me out for being right." Luke said sternly. "You buried your head in the sand and ignored them. This could have been avoided if you'd pulled your head out of your arse and communicated. But no, the wall went up. Just like it did after Jesse died. I tried to find you. I lost my best friend too that night, but you just disappeared. And I could have done with your support, as well as you needing mine. And you ignored everything around you. We could have helped each other. And Chloe could have helped you and you could have helped her. But instead, you ignored them. And then act surprised that it came to this."

"I think you are wrong!"

"And that's okay."

"Luke, get out!"

"No. You aren't going to push me away, like you've pushed everything in your life away."

"I've got nothing left to push away!" Beca yelled.

"Well, thanks a lot Beca." Luke glared. " You've got a real friend in me, but if I'm not even worth fighting for, no wonder you don't want to fight for your kid."

"That's not fair!"

"Look, the world doesn't owe you any favours, okay? You had a shit childhood. Get over it. You had a rough time of it after losing Jesse. Get over it. You're pissed off because the court case didn't go your way. Get. Over. It."

"You can't talk-"

"-Stand up and be that feisty, no bullshit girl that Jesse loved beyond words. Be the tiger bear mama I've always known you to be when it comes to Jessie. Fucking grow a pair Becky!"

"Did you just call me Becky?" Beca's face twisted into a smirk.

"That's what you got from that entire conversation?"

"Pretty much." Beca said, leaning back into Luke's knees again. She was quiet for a long time, thinking of what Luke had said. The sound of her door buzzer interrupted her thoughts and Luke eased himself off of the sofa.

"That'll be dinner." He said, walking quickly over to the front door to let the delivery driver in.

Beca stood up at the same time and headed to the kitchen to find some plates for their food. Luke had given her a lot of think about it. She was just setting the plates, cutlery and napkins on the large packing crate that served as her coffee table when Luke came in with a large box.

"Dinner is served." He announced, as he set it down to the right of the plates.

"Drink?" Beca asked, walking backwards to the small kitchenette area.

"Hmm, please. What have you got?"

"Water."

"Water's great." Luke smiled and watched as she reached up for the tumblers from the high cupboard, her shirt rode up, exposing her lower back and hip. "What's the tattoo for?"

"Which one?" Beca said, spinning her head around as she filled two glasses.

"The one on your hip. Why? How many do you have?"

"Eight."

"Oh." Luke said, and began unpacking the food, serving some onto the plates and handing one to Beca.

"Yeah, and Jesse paid for most of them! But the one on my hip is a car crash… literally."

"That's… um… an odd choice."

"Well…" Beca said, coming closer to him with their drinks. "… the car crash that changed my life. It was the day my daughter was born. It was the day I helped save a life. It was the day I met… it was a big day."

"Beca, I've got to ask you something?" Luke said a few moments later.

"Sure."

"Did you like Chloe? Before the whole baby swap thing came to light."

"How do you mean?"

"I dunno, you just get this funny look on your face whenever her name is mentioned. I thought it was nerves to start with, but I think she means something to you."

"Well, yeah, we went through something together."

"Something more than that."

Beca's face pinked up a little as she dismissed his words.

"Well, you've got nothing to worry about now. I feel nothing towards her now." Beca admitted. "And I doubt I'll feel anything towards anyone every again the way I feel right now."

"Hey, you'll find someone, when the time is right."

"Maybe." Beca whispered before changing the subject. "I thought of some lyrics of a song for Jessie while I was in the tub."

"Yeah?"

"Just a few notes that were going round my head from earlier in the police station and I thought of a verse and a chorus while I was in the tub."

"Sing them for me?"

"I don't sing dude."

"Liar. I hear you often at work and you know I think you've got a lovely tone. What's the song about?"

"You remember how much Jessie liked my voice?"

"Yes, of course."

"I guess it was about that. And I thought maybe I could record it for her and then she could play it, so she doesn't forget me."

"She's not going to forget you. Because you are going to see her. But you are never going to get Jessie back if you go around throwing garden ornaments though shop windows, you know that, don't you?"

"Yeah, yeah I know." Beca said, uncomfortably. She was regretting her actions and she was hearing what Luke had to say about everything.

"Sing me a little bit of your song." Luke repeated.

"Luke, I-"

"-Please."

Beca sighed and laid down her fork.

"Okay, but don't laugh. This is really rough. And I'm not having a good day."

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin' 'til you find the window
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

"My Wish" – Rascal Flatts

"Beca, that's beautiful. If you can come up with something like that on a bad day, what the hell will you come up with on a good one. You need to be writing music, not just producing it."

"Yeah, well, I'll remember that when I put in my order for my big break."

"It'll happen."

"I know and I'm grateful for what I've got with my career now. I'm just tired and cranky."

"It's okay."

"Would you mind staying over tonight?" Beca asked, looking hopeful.

"Of course not."

"It's just been a rough few days."

"You don't need to explain." Luke said. "I understand you haven't been sleeping all that well."

"I signed Jessica away like it was nothing." Beca said.

"You can't think like that. You had to comply with the courts. She's with a good family. Have you seen any pictures of her?"

"I haven't checked my phone for a few days." Beca admitted, standing up to look for her phone. She found it in her purse and swiped to unlock it. "Thirty eight messages, sixteen photos and nine emails."

"Popular!"

"Mostly from Chloe. She's checking in and updating me on Jessie and Alex." Beca said, turning her phone to show Luke the pictures as she scrolled through various messages. "Oh, great."

"What is it?" Luke asked, recognising the bland tone to her voice.

"It's from Chloe's solicitor. They want to meet next week to discuss the settlement from the Children's Hospital of Atlanta."

"Hasn't that already been discussed?" Luke asked.'

"No. Not yet. The settlement from Flintstone came through a few days ago, mine cleared off my medical debt so yeah…"

"This is a good thing. It might mean you can finally start breathing again."

"I guess so. My medical debt is paid off which means I could quit two of my jobs and be no worse off. Spend some more time on my music. I mean, that's one positive, I guess. And if I get anything from the second settlement, it would be great if I could get a place closer to Studio City, be closer to the kids."

"Now that's the optimistic thinking I was hoping to hear from you." Luke smiled. "Have they said what you are likely to get? Do you know what you'll do with it?"

"I mean, if I walk away with twenty grand from the Children's Hospital of Atlanta, that could get me a pretty nice place."

"Um, Beca, I think you are in line for a little more than that from the second settlement. You should fight for at least a million."

"Oh."

"Yeah, don't hold back. Someone needs to be held responsible for the mess this has caused."

"Yeah. I know. Urgh, I'm so over all of this."

"You find the strength to fight for your girls."

"Yeah, just gotta find the strength to fight with Chloe first... and by the sounds of the latest email I received today, that's going to be next week at the meeting with the lawyers."

.oOo.


A/N - Be great to get some feedback or your thoughts on this chapter if you can spare the time! Next chapter is Beca and Chloe meeting up. Have a great few days everyone!