IPY Oneshot: It's Back

A/N: Inspiration is a funny thing. After not writing anything for months, I've now written oneshots in back to back days. Also, I LOVE this universe :).

*Shoutout to Lolly who requested this one!

Chloe pressed a kiss to Blake's forehead, saying a silent prayer of thanks that all three kids were finally asleep. Bedtime was quite the struggle these days, the kids not quite having adjusted to their new home and especially with Beca working all hours to get the new studio ready. Chloe was thrilled that her wife was finally branching out on her own, already looking forward to Beca setting her own hours and hopefully being home for dinner more nights than not. Chloe had taken over the bedtime routine, knowing Beca needed a few minutes to decompress after the long days.

She quietly crept out of the bedroom, taking a full minute to make sure the door closed without so much as a sound, breathing a sigh of relief when there was no cry of "Mama!" from within. Chloe loved all three of their children dearly, but handling three six-year-olds by herself was a lot.

Stopping for a moment at the top of the stairs, Chloe frowned when she couldn't hear Beca puttering around in the kitchen. They were all still getting used to being in such a large house, finally forced to give in when it was clear their family had outgrown the small ranch. It had almost killed Chloe to agree to move out, not wanting to give up the place that she and Beca had first truly called home, but it was either that or allow the triplets to destroy it. She knew Beca struggled just as much with leaving, recalling all too well the way her wife had sat for an hour in front of the small memorial tree they'd planted for Zeus in the backyard after he passed away.

Shaking those unpleasant thoughts away, Chloe wandered downstairs in search of her wife, needing Beca's arms around her after her most recent nighttime battle with the kids. She shuffled into the kitchen and glanced around only to find Beca passed out at the kitchen table, head tipped back against her chair and plate of food nearly untouched in front of her.

Chloe felt her blood run a little cold, realizing in that moment just how many times over the past few months she'd found Beca fast asleep somewhere around the house. The fear was always there, usually stuck somewhere deep in the back of her brain since Beca was basically Superwoman in Chloe's eyes, always making the extra effort and sacrifice for their family, but that niggle lately had become more and more constant until suddenly she found herself wondering why she hadn't seen the signs sooner. The exhaustion, the long hours, the stress of leaving the label and starting her own company… all the excuses Chloe told herself for why Beca was so tired all the time had her heart freezing in her chest at the thought running through her mind.

It's back.

One month later and Chloe was sure she was going to have a nervous breakdown any minute. She'd watched Beca religiously and the symptoms were becoming so obvious it was basically like waving the biggest red flag ever sewn from the top of the Empire State Building. Sure she'd known that it was always a possibility that the cancer could return but Beca had been borderline obsessive about her checkups and appointments and testing, which Chloe could only assume meant that she knew and wasn't telling her. That might hurt worse than anything, that once again Beca was keeping things from her.

Chloe wasn't blind to the blatant exhaustion Beca was going through, waking in the middle of the night more often than not to an empty space beside her. She'd wandered quietly to Beca's home studio to confirm what she already knew, the red light illuminated above the door signaling her wife hard at work inside. The nights that Beca did manage to rest she would toss and turn restlessly, sometimes waking Chloe who was then unable to settle the anxiousness in her own stomach enough to fall back to sleep.

She couldn't help herself one night after the kids went to bed and Beca had once again gotten home late from the new studio, apologizing once more for missing dinner. Chloe had offered to warm her up something, but Beca shook her head and told her she wasn't hungry.

"Bec… I'm worried about you," Chloe whispered, unable to keep it inside anymore.

Beca gave her a weary smile, reaching over to take her hand. "Just a lot going on right now, Chlo. It'll be okay. Things will calm down once the studio is finished."

"You aren't eating."

Beca sat up, clearly taking note of her serious tone. "Babe, I promise. I'm good… just tired."

Chloe felt tears forming in her eyes and was wrapped in her wife's arms before she could say another word. Beca squeeze her tightly, whispering comforting words into her ear until she calmed herself down.

"Come on, Chlo… let's go to bed."

They'd talked a lot that night and Chloe had felt somewhat pacified by the time Beca had given her that look, shortly followed by stripping her clothes off and pressing her naked to their bed. At least their sex life wasn't suffering, and Chloe remembered how that was a major sign things weren't right with her wife. She let it go, but the thought refused to return to the back of her mind where it belonged.

Chloe pulled into the driveway, thankful for Beca offering to stay with with kids so she could run a few errands and get groceries. She hadn't had much time to herself lately, and Chloe gratefully took her time at the store to make sure they had what they needed for the week. She was looking forward to having a nice Sunday afternoon and dinner with her family.

She carried the first few bags of groceries into the kitchen, glancing around for any sign of Beca and the kids to get them to help her. When she didn't find them downstairs or hear sounds coming from the upstairs playroom, she ventured into the backyard to discover an intense game of some sort of tag taking place. Chloe remained silent, the smile fading a bit from her lips as she saw Ryan clearly lining up an opportunity to tackle his brother. The pair of them were usually rough when they played, but the normal brother or sibling stuff that never resulted in a serious injury. Chloe bit back a laugh as Ryan grabbed Blake around the middle, her oldest son emitting a loud shriek before both of them collapsed in a fit of giggles to the grass.

What Chloe wasn't expecting was for Beca to yell at both of them, grabbing and separating them immediately. It took her completely by surprise as half the time Beca was rolling around on the ground with them, and she was sure she could count on one hand the amount of times Beca had raised her voice at any of their kids.

"Beca! Hey, it's okay!" Chloe interrupted, making her way into the backyard and over to where the game had clearly stopped. "They were just playing."

Beca stepped back, seeming to recalibrate as she looked blankly at her sons and then at Chloe "Right… just… just be careful okay? I don't want you guys to get hurt."

Blake and Ryan looked guiltily over at her, and Chloe shot them a warm smile. "It's okay, no harm done, right?"

They both shook their heads and Chloe clapped her hands. "Who's hungry?"

It was like breaking the ice that had formed over everyone, all three kids shouting happily and sprinting for the kitchen. Chloe glanced over at Beca who seemed in shock at her own actions, pushing away the fear and suspicion that immediately took up residence in her brain.

"I don't… Chlo I don't know why I did that," she finally admitted, looking a little lost.

Chloe stepped closer and wrapped her in a hug, forcing the worries away for now. "It's okay, baby. Let's go save the groceries I spent a hour buying before the boys find the snack packs they're supposed to take for lunch this week."

The irritability didn't end after that day, instead switching subjects from their kids to Beca's job or directed at Chloe herself. She tried to tell herself it was nothing, but the fear was back and this time it wasn't going anywhere. Chloe lay awake in bed, jaw clenched tightly together as she desperately tried not to cry, finally slipping from between the sheets and leaving the room before she couldn't contain it any more.

It had been a month since they'd made love. Tonight was the final straw, with Beca claiming she was exhausted and then snapping and pulling away when Chloe tried to move closer to her. They'd never gone this long without it, not since the night of Jess and Ashley's wedding.

Chloe padded downstairs to the kitchen, making herself a quick cup of coffee before collapsing into a seat at the table and completely breaking down. Once they started the tears refused to stop, all of the pain and fear and despair flooding out of her and she was powerless to stop it.

What was she going to do? They barely made it through Beca's treatments last time, and now they had three kids to think about. How would they tell them? How could she help them understand that Beca would have to fight something they couldn't see or touch? What would happen to their relationship? Chloe remembered all too well how fractured they became, how they almost didn't survive it.

Now it was happening all over again, it an eerily similar fashion. Beca was hiding it from her, trying to save her from the pain and fear of knowing the cancer had returned when all she wanted was to help her through it. Chloe knew she needed to confront Beca, that their marriage definitely wouldn't survive the lies and secrecy and stubbornness that had permeated Beca's first battle.

"Tomorrow," Chloe said defiantly to the empty kitchen, knowing it had to be.

Her hands came up to cover her mouth, the realization hitting her all over again that Beca had cancer. Again. It was just as overwhelming as the first time, as if no time had passed at all. Before she knew it the tears were falling uncontrollably again, her body shaking with the intensity of the emotions running through her.

"Chloe? Oh my God… Chloe what's wrong?!"

Beca's voice only made her cry harder, wondering if she only had months more left to hear her wife say her name.

Suddenly Beca was turning her chair to the side, kneeling in front of her with a desperate look on her face as if she too might burst into tears at any second.

"Chlo… what's wrong? Please stop crying babe, you're gonna make me cry too…"

Chloe squeezed her eyes shut, focusing for a minute to get her breathing under control. When she opened them again, Beca's concerned stare almost had her blubbering all over again.

"It's okay… just talk to me," Beca said softly. "Is this because… Is this because of earlier? I'm sorry I snapped at you, babe… I just had such a frustrating day and the contractor told me there's some sort of code issue with the new studio and it'll be like a month delay or something…" she trailed off, realizing she was rambling. "I love you so much, Chlo."

Chloe looked down, mumbling, "If you love me so much, why are you lying to me?"

Beca's expression turned confused. "Lying to you? What are you talking about? What am I not telling you?"

"I know, Bec," Chloe's voice was soft. "I recognize the symptoms. And I know you've been getting the tests regularly, which means you know too and you didn't tell me."

Beca remained quiet, her bewildered expression making Chloe wonder what she was thinking. It took her a few minutes to put the pieces together, jaw dropping when it finally clicked.

"Wait… Chloe, you think my cancer is back?!"

Chloe wordlessly stared back at her, waiting for Beca to tell her the truth.

"Chlo, I'm fine. I can't… I can't believe you think I would keep something like that from you!" Beca stood up and took a step back, running her fingers through her messy hair.

God Chloe loved her hair. She took a minute to stare at the gorgeous waves that Beca had only exaggerated with her fingers carding through them.

"My cancer is not back."

Those words pulled Chloe back into the moment, feeling hope fill her chest that Beca was telling her the truth. She'd been so lost in her own thoughts and fears and observations over the past months that she had stopped entertaining the idea she might be wrong.

Beca knelt back in front of her and grabbed her hands. "I'll go tomorrow and get the blood tests again if you want, babe, but I saw Dr. Morris three weeks ago and everything was normal. You know how meticulous I am with my monitoring… and you'd be the first one I'd call if it was back. I couldn't hide something like that from you. It would tear me apart… and… God, Chlo the kids!"

Chloe watched Beca ramble on and then stop herself when she mentioned their kids. Beca knew her biggest fear was the cancer would come back and take her and Chloe would be left alone with their kids.

"I'm not going anywhere, Chlo," Beca's voice was soft again, her eyes looking adoringly up into Chloe's. "And I promise that if it does come back you'll be the first to know… and we'll get through it again. Together."

Chloe bit her lip, the stress and relief and fear threatening to overtake her again, managing to whisper, "You promise?"

Beca smiled, nodding gently. "I promise you."

Chloe let out a slow, shaky breath, nodding back. "Okay… I'm okay."

Beca's expression turned curious. "Exactly how long have you been holding this in?"

"Oh you know… a week… give or take a few months," Chloe answered sheepishly, feeling a little embarrassed.

"Babe, I know it's scary, but you have to talk to me about it," Beca's voice was comforting as she released her hands to rub over her thighs. "I don't want you to ever feel alone or like you can't talk to me about the cancer. It's a part of me… it's not ever going to go away completely, but that doesn't mean you have to live in constant fear."

Chloe shook her head, looking down again. "I don't think it'll ever go away."

Beca sighed, "That's fair, I guess. It's sorta always there for me. I just push it way back there and I only think about it when I'm with Dr. Morris waiting for my latest results. Every time he says I'm good its like, whew okay," she explained, brushing her hand over her forehead as she said the words. "I just want you to be able to talk to me about anything, okay?"

Chloe hesitated, wondering if now was an appropriate time to bring up the other thing that had been taking up a lot of her mind before the cancer scare bender.


Beca smiled at her, "Of course. What is it?"

Chloe took a deep breath, finally breaking into a hesitant smile.

"I want to have another baby."

A/N: As always, the first thanks goes out to my fantastic beta Arsto!

Love this universe. I'll never let it go. Ever.

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