Aubrey sat at her desk, thinking about the last few days. With a shake of her head, she pulled up the file that had all of the Bellas contact information. After pulling each name into a group message, she began to type.
Aubrey: roll call. Did everyone get a replacement phone?
Amy: aye-aye captain.
Esther: she is the general, Beca is the captain.
CR: if I get into the air force, I will be a real captain.
Flo: do we call Chloe Dr. Chloe after she graduates?
Chloe: have to start first, Flo.
Stacie: why did you all need new phones?
Emily: I didn’t. I left mine at the hotel.
Ashley: but I got mine replaced.
Stacie: that’s not an answer.
Beca: busy Posen catch ya later.
Aubrey: ok that’s all 11. Shall we plan a talk next week?
Stacie: this isn’t funny guys. What happened?
Aubrey: call you soon, Legs.
Stacie grumbled as the others logged off. She opened her own text app and sent a message to Emily.
Emily: long story. Look, I have a meeting with my instructors, can I call ya when I’m done?
Stacie: I guess.
Stacie put her phone down. It was bad enough that she missed the tour, but now something happened that screwed up their phones. She took a deep breath as she rubbed Bella’s belly, trying to soothe herself and keep from upsetting the baby all at the same time. She had nearly accomplished it when she heard a knock on her door. With a frown, since she hadn’t ordered anything, she stood up to see who it was. “Beca?”
“Yeah,” Beca smiled. “I brought some stuff from the Bellas for our namesake. Can I come in?”
Stacie stepped out of the way, still stunned. “What’s going on?”
“We decided I should tell you about the tour. I’m the only captain in New York this week.” Beca explained as she put down bags. “But can we do the fun stuff first?”
Stacie nodded, unsure what to say. She had a tight knot in her belly and felt nervous. Everyone responded to the chat so everyone must be ok, but...
“This one is from Chloe.” Beca pulled out a rainbow onesie. “She said all babies are treasures. Well, here, there’s a card.”
Stacie read the card Beca handed over and it did indeed say since all babies are treasures, Bella must be the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. “Well, that’s cheesy.”
Beca shrugged, “of course it is, it’s Beale.” She pulled out a box. “Bella will have to grow into these.” She grinned, “noise cancelling headphones to protect Bella when the hunter gets back in business.
Stacie snorted, but looked through the other gifts of clothes and toys. She looked at Beca with a puzzled expression when the last present was a usb drive. “What’s this?”
“That’s from Emily.” Beca grinned goofily.
Stacie booted up her laptop and inserted the drive. She saw a folder labeled “tour” and a video file called “For Bella.” She double-clicked on it. Her eyes pricked with tears when she realized it was a recording of all the girls singing just as they had the day that she told them of Bella’s birth.
Beca’s grin morphed into a proud smile. “She got someone to record almost all of our performances. Even the one where Taps cuts us off.” When Stacie again looked to ask questions, Beca held up her hand. “I will tell you the whole story, I promise. I thought she was brilliant for thinking to capture all the shows but asking us to try again on the snippet she sang for Bella was the best. She’s grown up well.”
Stacie nodded and closed the laptop. She checked that all of the excitement hadn’t woken Bella then turned to Beca. “So, now will you tell me?”
Beca nodded and launched into the explanation. She didn’t gloss over any of it, from the failed riff-off and Taps interruption, to Khaled’s suite and Amy’s piss-off at Emily. She talked about Chloe’s fascination with the Captain, and Aubrey’s disappointment with her dad, Theo and Khaled’s offer, her turning it down, and the kidnapping. When Stacie’s face paled, Beca patted the back of Stacie’s hand. “We all got away. We might all be a little weird while we process it all, but we are all ok.”
“What do you mean?” Stacie wiped her eyes, “process it all?”
Beca took a deep breath. “Here, let me show you our last show.” She opened the laptop and Emily’s file, then clicked on the video called Freedom. Stacie watched as Beca nervously began her song, smiled as the tension left after making eye contact with Chloe, smirking as she thought to pull the girls on stage, and challenging Amy, who was always up for anything, to join in the song. By the time it was over, Stacie was crying again. “You guys finally got together?”
“No,” Beca took a deep breath and confessed. “I finally got the nerve to say something, but when I tried to find her after the show, she was kissing Chicago, the Captain I told you about.”
“Oh, Becs.” Stacie felt deflated.
Beca shook her head, “it’s ok. I took too long. She had her life threatened and wants to, you know, not waste any more time. My life is gonna be crazy for who knows how long. Better she feels good with him, goes to vet school, all that stuff she’s put off.”
Stacie studied Beca carefully, “I don't buy you are ok with this.”
“That’s what I mean about processing. Today, I’m ok with it. But it’s the first time since I was eighteen that I don’t know when I will see her again.” Beca shrugged, “I don’t think we’ve spent more than a week apart in seven years.”
“I just thought, I mean, I always thought,” Stacie tried to find the words to explain her surprise.
Beca chuckled, “I know. Legacy threatened to clock Chloe. She thought we were together already, and Chloe was cheating.”
Stacie tried not to laugh at the thought of protective Emily. “Poor Legacy.”
“Yeah, I had to do some serious explaining.” Beca smiled ruefully. “I won’t say I don’t still love her. I just,” she shrugged again. “I show, I don’t talk. My showing wasn’t enough.”
“She’ll be back. She’ll miss you as much as you miss her.” Stacie said confidently. “Meantime, what about the rest?”
Beca frowned, not following, “the rest?”
“You said you were the only one in New York?”
“Oh, yeah. Posen is cleaning up with the lodge. She wants to manage me and make sure the record label doesn’t screw me up. Legacy is gonna try and finish school...”
“Try and finish?” Stacie interrupted.
Beca nodded, “she said once she sang and danced for her life, doing it for a trophy seems stupid. And Posen has been encouraging her to go back to songwriting. I talked her into taking Amy’s place in the apartment. She can work on songs, and finish school online. The school part has to get figured out, but if she can make it work, she and I can work on songs together before I go on tour.”
Stacie looked dazed again, “is Aubrey moving to town?”
“Yeah,” Beca confirmed, “a Sony subsidiary called Epic now owns Khaled’s label. They have an office near Madison Square Garden. Posen convinced Khaled to let us work through this office.” Her grin broadened. “I forgot to tell you, she convinced him that what he liked was not my performance, but my mixing, my layering. Theo likes the way I sound, but what touched Khaled was my arrangement. I get six months to try and put material together to prove it.”
“Aubrey did that?”
Beca nodded, “yeah. It was amazing. She must have stayed up all night researching the industry, because she made the turtle man pull his head all the way into his shell.”
Stacie laughed, “turtle man?”
“Theo, he’s Khaled’s ear man, remember?” Beca explained. “CR calls him Mr. Eye Contact. He, like, stares at you when he talks.” Beca shuddered even as she laughed at the memory.
“Ok, now that I’m sort of caught up, where are the others?” Stacie still felt befuddled but kept trying.
“Jessica and Ashley are visiting Ashley’s folks in New Jersey, then plan to go back to Georgia to open a bakery. Flo is franchising her trucks. CR is applying to the Air Force to become a pilot.” Beca ticked off the list.
Stacie arched an eyebrow. “Amy? Lilly?” She paused and said pointedly, “Chloe?”
Beca blushed, “Lilly says Satan left her body after the yacht exploded and calls herself Esther. I didn’t ask what she was doing next. I think she hooked up with the DJ from the tour though.”
Stacie waited, not so patiently. Bella woke and started to fuss. Stacie picked her up and rocked her. “She needs a diaper change. Be right back.”
Beca wandered around the apartment and ended up at the window, looking out at the street. She turned back to the living room when she heard Stacie return. “You have a much better view than I do.”
“Perks of the field. Engineers know people. I helped an architect with a material failure problem. He knows the people who own this building. Back to my question: Amy and Chloe?”
“Amy is working out stuff regarding the money her mom put aside for her. She’ll be overseas for a couple of months at least.” Beca let out a long slow breath. “Chloe is going to hang out with Chicago for the summer before starting vet school. He has one more USO tour to watch over, and she’s going to travel with him, sort of.”
Stacie nodded, “I still think she will miss you.”
Beca shrugged, “surrounded by the beauty of Europe, music, and with a handsome guy to wake up next to? I doubt it. But with any luck, writing songs with Legacy, having meetings with the label and Posen and bugging you to see Bella...and you too, I guess,” Beca teased with a grin, “maybe I won’t miss her as much.”
“I know, you only love me for my child and my formerly banging bod,” Stacie snorted.
Beca scoffed, “even after having a kid, you still got a banging bod, Legs. Now, how about I order in Chinese?”
Stacie lifted an eyebrow. “You buying? Maybe Esther isn’t the only one to have Satan leave.”
Beca chuckled but dialed up her favorite delivery. It was good to be home. Weird, but good.