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“Come on Bean, you can do it,” Chloe encouraged, holding her arms out towards Marleigh as the one-year-old stood, Beca sitting behind her. 


Marleigh grinned and took an unsteady step, then another one, before falling on her bum. She giggled and pushed back to her feet to make the remaining three steps to her mom, collapsing into her arms. 


“Oh my goodness, you’re walking,” Chloe gushed as she peppered her face with kisses. “Where did the time go??” She set her back down, facing Beca. “Wanna do it again?” 


Beca grinned, extending her arms this time. “Come to Auntie Beca, MJ!” 


Chloe smiled, holding Marleigh’s hips as she spoke close to her ear. “Go to Mama.” 


Beca froze and met her eyes, a silent question swirling in them as they simultaneously filled with tears. Chloe’s smile simply widened, and she glanced away from Beca to focus on Marleigh as she toddled to Beca, squealing as she did. 


“You-- really?” Beca asked as she held Marleigh against her. 


Chloe nodded. “You’re not her aunt, Bec. You’ve been there since day one, raising her with me. I know it can’t be official on paper yet, but to me, you’re Marleigh’s other parent.” After a pause, she added, “If you want that, that is.” 


Beca visibly swallowed, and a couple of tears spilled down her cheeks. She cleared her throat, seemingly at a loss for words as she glanced at MJ, leaning in to kiss her chubby cheek. 


*


Beca wasn’t a fan of the cold, but she had to admit that a white Christmas was pretty dope. 


So was Christmas in the Beale fashion. They had spent the day before baking cookies, singing Christmas carols, and once it was dark, had gone out to Rockefeller to see the tree. 


Beca woke to the sound of babbling through the baby monitor that morning, and after finding Chloe sound asleep, turned the device off and slipped from under the covers. She padded to the nursery across the hall and smiled at the sight of a wide-awake Marleigh staring up at her with those big blue eyes. 


“G’morning, Bean,” she murmured, bending down to pick her up. Turned out Marleigh was still a bit sleepy, cuddling into Beca as soon as she was in her arms. Beca brushed a kiss to her forehead. “Merry Christmas.” 


She walked down the hall towards the living room and turned on the tree lights, knowing how obsessed Marleigh was with the colors. 


“Look at aaaaall the presents, Mar,” Beca said as she pointed to the various piles of gifts she and Chloe had hustled to wrap last night. “I think most of it is for you, baby.” 


Marleigh babbled incoherent things, pointing to the tree. Her features broke into a wide smile as she looked at something over Beca’s shoulder, and Beca turned around to see Chloe padding over. 


“Merry Christmas,” Chloe said, leaning in to kiss Beca’s lips, then Marleigh’s cheek. 


Marleigh had a blast opening her presents, even though she looked definitely more entertained by the wrapping paper than the gifts themselves. Beca felt nerves sprout in her belly as she stood up to pour herself more coffee, plucking the small box laying under the tree and handing it to MJ. 


“This is for Mommy,” she whispered, pointing to Chloe. “Can you go give it to her?” 


“Ya!” Marleigh exclaimed and walked over to where Chloe sat. 


Chloe glanced at Beca questioningly, then at her daughter. She took the box, her hand shaking lightly. “Thank you, baby.” Her eyes met Beca once more, then widened as she opened the box to find a sparkling diamond ring. Not any ring; her grandmother’s. “Beca…”


When she finally tore her gaze away from it, Beca had shuffled closer. “That business trip I took to LA a couple of months ago? It was actually to Portland. I wanted to ask your parents if they were okay with me asking you an important question, and your mom insisted I had this ring. Chloe…” she took a deep breath, shifting from a sitting position to down one knee. “You are everything to me. This past year and a half have been my happiest yet, and it’s all because of you. And I want to make this, us, to become a forever thing,” Beca paused, smiling as happy tears stung her eyes. “Chlo, will you marry me?”


Chloe choked on a watery chuckle. “Yes,” she whispered, crushing the distance between them to press a lingering kiss on Beca’s lips. “I love you.” 


Beca beamed. “I love you, too.” She laughed when Bean crashed their embrace, wrapping an arm around her. Her heart felt fit to burst from happiness. “And you.” 


*


They started house hunting as soon as Chloe secured a vet tech position in the clinic she was completing her internship in, in Stamford, Connecticut. After a couple of months’ search, they found a lovely farmhouse in Westchester County, just outside of Bedford, located an hour from Manhattan and thirty minutes from Stamford.


It was built in the 1900s in the New England housing style, complete with the traditional covered porch, metal standing seam roof, rafter tails, and barn-style garage. The interior had been fully renovated, giving way to a fresh and modern spin. 


“There’s a greenhouse, too, and a cottage,” Chloe said with a soft gasp as they wandered about the three acres that came with the property after visiting the inside. Marleigh was just ahead of them, exploring. “We’d have enough space for a dog, and maybe some goats and chickens?” 


Beca chuckled. “Goats and chickens? Since when are we having a farm?” 


Chloe giggled, shrugging. “I really want Bean to grow up around animals.”


Beca smiled and kissed Chloe’s cheek. “Fine, we can have goats and chickens. I won’t be going around the chickens, though. They kinda scare me.” 


“Really?” Chloe asked, unable to stop herself from snickering. 


Beca glared. “Don’t make fun of me, Beale.” 


“Mommy!” Marleigh called out, holding up what looked like a daisy. “Look. Pwetty.” 


Chloe crouched down to her level, smiling. “Very pretty. Do you like it here, baby?” 


Marleigh nodded her pigtails bouncing with the movement. She pointed to the swingset. “We go there?” 


Chloe pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Go ahead.” 


They signed the papers a few weeks later and were set to move there the following summer, after Chloe’s graduation.


All the pieces of her puzzle were finally coming together, and Chloe couldn’t feel happier.


*


“You ready to clap, Bean?” Beca asked as she and Marleigh sat in one of the back rows, among the other students’ families. “It’s almost Mommy’s turn.” 


“Mommy?” Marleigh asked, pointing at the stage. 


“Not yet,” Beca murmured, smiling at her impatience and brushing a kiss to her head. 


Two students later, Chloe walked across the stage. 


“Mommy!” Marleigh called out as the Dean handed Chloe her diploma. She clapped from her spot on Beca’s lap, beaming. Chloe waved and blew them a kiss before she headed down the steps leading off the stage. 


The ceremony ended forty-five minutes later, and Beca and MJ met up with Chloe by the side of the stage. 


“Congratulations, baby,” Beca murmured, kissing her softly. “I’m so proud of you.” 


Marleigh dutifully gave her mom the flowers she and Beca picked up this morning. “Congwatulations, Mommy!”


Chloe bent down to pick her up. “Thank you, my love. I feel like this calls for ice cream. What do you say?” 


“Yes! I want four scoops!” Marleigh declared, holding up three fingers. 


Beca chuckled, holding up four fingers herself. “That’s four, Bean.” 


Marleigh copied her, grinning “Four scoops!” 


Beca tickled her sides, drawing a string of uncontrolled giggles from the toddler. They settled at the park with their ice cream, enjoying the warm June afternoon. 


Chloe cuddled close to Beca as they watched Marleigh play with her toys ten feet away. “She’s growing up way too fast,” Chloe murmured. 


Beca hummed. “Is that your subtle way of telling me you’re ready to have another kid, Beale?” 


A giggle flitted past Chloe’s lips. “No. I think we’re just on the brink of getting a case of the terrible twos, so it’s probably best if we only have one kid to handle for now.” 


Beca laughed. MJ was definitely showing some temper and had already given them a taste of what toddler tantrums could be like. “That’s probably wise. And maybe we could get married first, too?” 


With the house hunting and Chloe finishing up her school year, they hadn’t really talked about it. 


“Can we do it at home? I really want my dad to be there.” 


Her father’s condition had stabilized over the last year or so. They had visited him a few times since MJ’s birth, and Beca could tell he was relieved to be able to hold his granddaughter and interact with her despite his condition.


“Of course we can,” she murmured, brushing a kiss to Chloe’s forehead. “I was also thinking… that we could stay there longer this summer? Two weeks is going to fly by, and if we stayed a month then maybe your mom could take some time off?” 


Alice had been caring for her husband for the last five years, and Chloe had shared that she was worried it was taking too much of a toll on her. 


Chloe lifted her head from Beca’s chest. “Would you really be okay with that?” 


“Yeah,” Beca said, brushing a kiss to the corner of her mouth. 


“Mama,” MJ called as she walked over, holding a rock. “Pwesent.” 


Beca held out her hand, smiling. Marleigh had an obsession with rocks, lately. “Thank you, baby. I love it.”


MJ snuggled in between the two of them, curling up against Beca’s chest. 


“You tired, Bean?” Beca asked softly, dropping a kiss on her hair. MJ didn’t answer, her breathing evening out a few seconds later. 


Beca shared a look with Chloe and smiled. It felt odd to think of how, ten years ago, she was convinced music and success would be the key to her happiness. And it had been, for a good five years, up until Chloe came back into her life. 


This, what they built together since then, brought Beca to another level of happiness she didn’t know was possible. 


*


They got married on a warm September evening, at an orchard with the ocean as a gorgeous backdrop. 


Marleigh was supposed to be the flower girl, but she changed her mind last minute, refusing to go first and clinging to Chloe, who ended up picking her up before she walked down the aisle alongside her father. 


Beca’s father walked her down the aisle next, and Chloe heard Marleigh gasp. “Mama looks pwetty,” the two-year-old whispered. 


“She really does,” Chloe agreed quietly, tears of happiness already filling her eyes as Beca came to a stop in front of her. 


“You look…” Beca faltered, shaking her head as what looked like awe flashed in her features. “Incredibly beautiful, Chlo.” Her focus shifted to MJ. “And you’re the cutest flower girl ever.” 


Marleigh giggled and motioned for Chloe to set her down, but she remained by Aubrey’s side. They recited their vows in front of their closest friends and immediate family, exchanging rings and somehow managing to make it through the ceremony without bawling their eyes out. 


“I now pronounce you, wife and wife,” Aubrey said, a beaming smile breaking across her features. “You may now kiss.” 


Chloe grinned and cupped Beca’s cheek, stepping closer and pressing a lingering kiss to her lips as their friends whistled and hooted. 


“Yuck!” Marleigh exclaimed, and Chloe found her peeking through her fingers when they parted. 


She laughed and picked her up, she and Beca kissing each cheek before they started down the aisle under the applause of their loved ones. 


*


“Where we going?” 


Beca smiled as she laced Marleigh’s shoes. “We’re going to the courthouse, Bean.” 


“Wha’s that?” 


“It’s where big decisions are made, by people we call judges. Today we’re meeting with a judge who will decide if I can become your real mom.” 


They had tried to explain that to Marleigh since signing the petition for Beca to adopt her, but Marleigh had argued that Beca was already her Mama. It had been a long process since their wedding, with background checks and a visit from the child protective services. 


“I hope the judge says yes,” Marleigh said as she swung her legs. 


Beca smiled. “Me, too.” She kissed her forehead and picked her up, heading down the stairs. Part of her expected Marco to show up out of the blue, but she knew that was unlikely, as he probably didn’t know of Marleigh’s existence. 


Nerves sprouted in Beca’s belly when they sat down for the final hearing. Marleigh sat on her lap, asking questions about the room they were in and being a welcome distraction as they waited for the judge. 


“And that?” 


“That’s a gavel,” Beca said. “The judge hits it when he makes a decision, or sometimes, when there’s a lot of people in the room and they’re talking too loud, the judge will slam it on their desk to request silence.” 


They stood when the judge walked in, the middle-aged woman motioning for them to sit down while she reviewed their file. 


“Mrs. Rebecca Mitchell, is it still your intent to adopt Marleigh Beale and become her other parent under the eyes of the law?” 


“Yes, your honor,” Beca answered, her voice shaking slightly as emotions swirled in her chest. 


“Mrs. Chloe Mitchell, do you still consent to Rebecca adopting your daughter and giving her, her last name?” 


“I do, your honor.” 


The judge motioned for them to come forward. “Sign here, and here.” 


Beca sucked in a sharp breath, meeting Chloe’s eyes before she took the pen and scribbled her signature at the bottom of the document. Chloe did the same right after, casting Beca a smile. 


“You say yes?” Marleigh asked, looking up at the judge. “Mama is my real mom, now?”


The judge chuckled, smiling warmly. “She is. Congratulations.” 


Beca wiped a tear sliding down her cheek. “Thank you.” 


She pulled her family into a long embrace as soon as they stepped out of the courtroom, basking into the moment.


“Can we go get ice cream, now?” Marleigh asked, breaking the silence. 


Chloe smiled and kissed her daughter’s cheek. “I think that’s a great idea.” She slid her hand into Beca’s, raising it to her lips and dropping a kiss to her knuckles. “Come on, Mitchells. Ice cream’s on me.” 


*


Fall was Chloe’s favorite season. It got incredibly beautiful in Westchester once the tree adorned their golden and scarlet leaves, and one of her favorite things to do was sit on the porch swing while nursing on a cup of coffee or tea, sometimes reading a book, other times watching her daughter play with her dad in the backyard, like today. 


Her parents had moved to the East Coast six months ago, as they wanted to spend more time with Marleigh. It made sense that they moved into the cottage on Beca and Chloe’s farm, so Chloe could be around to help her mom out. They had fully renovated the interior, with a fully-equipped kitchen, master bedroom, and cozy living and dining room. Marleigh was thrilled to have her grandparents around. She loved to play games with her grandpa and do farm tasks with her grandma, like feeding the chickens and goats, collecting eggs, or gardening.


“Go fish.” 


Marleigh made a disgruntled noise as she reached for another card. She huffed dramatically when Mike asked her for a card she had. “Grandpaaaa.” 


Chloe looked over her shoulder when she heard approaching footsteps. She smiled at her wife as Beca sat down beside her, and reached over to stroke her growing belly.


Chloe released a content sigh. “Do you ever feel like… pinching yourself? Because this feels too good to be true?” 


“Every morning when I wake up next to you,” Beca said, a teasing lilt to her tone. 


Chloe giggled. “Corny.” She turned her head to look at Beca. “When I was at my worst, I thought my life as it was back then would be it. I thought that I was far too broken to come back from it,” she paused, glancing at Marleigh and her parents and blinking back the tears threatening to blur her vision. “And now I have all this, and sometimes I can’t believe that this is my life. I feel incredibly grateful and lucky. More than I can put into words.” 


Chloe had been clean for nearly five years now. She hadn’t touched cocaine or alcohol since her first day of rehab and the cravings were no longer there. She sometimes thought about it on difficult days, but that’s all it was: a thought. It drifted away nearly as soon as it materialized, because Chloe was stronger now, and she knew how to handle the fleeting temptation. 


Beca pressed a kiss to her temple. “You fought for that, Chlo. First by leaving Marco, then going to rehab, and being determined to keep your head above the water through the bad days that followed.” 


Chloe’s free hand slid inside Beca’s. “Thank you for believing in me. For believing that there was still a piece of the Chloe you once knew in there.” 


Beca lifted their hands and pressed a lingering kiss to Chloe’s fingers. “I love you.” 


“I love you, too.” 


Their peaceful, heartfelt moment was soon over when the tornado that was their four-year-old ran up to them. 


“Mama,” Marleigh said as she settled on Beca’s lap. 


“What’s up, Bean?”


“How did you and Mommy meet?”


Beca hummed. “We went to school together. Mommy forced me into joining this singing group.” 


Chloe gasped. “I didn’t force you, Beca Mitchell.” 


“You burst into my shower,” Beca muttered as Marleigh giggled. 


“While you were naked?!” 


“Yep,” Beca said, widening her eyes at their daughter. “Can you believe that?” 


“Was it love at first sight?” 


“No. It was something deeper than that. For me at least. Something that grew slowly in my heart. So slowly that it took years for me to realize it.” 


Years?? ” Marleigh gasped. “That’s a long time.” 


“Yeah. I was an idiot.” 


Chloe giggled. “We were both idiots.” 


“But now you’re together, and that’s what’s important, right?” 


Chloe narrowed her eyes at MJ and reached out to ruffle her red hair. “When did you get so smart?” 


Marleigh shrugged, then dashed off to go back to her grandparents, drawing a chuckle from both Beca and Chloe. Beca glanced at Chloe, squeezing her leg. “You alright?” 


“Mmm.” Chloe rested her head on Beca’s shoulder, her hand finding Beca’s stomach once more in hopes of feeling a kick or two. “More than alright.” 


-fin-