Lizzie McGuire was a Disney Channel show starring Hilary Duff that aired in the early 2000s. So Yesterday was one of Hilary's solo releases- she's not the best singer in the world, but it was proper 2000s cheesy pop and it was at all the school discos circa 2004. Dom would have been a huge fan. And the lyrics are PERFECT for where Dom and Chloe are in their lives by the end of Lemons, so I've stuck them on the end for you. You should totally give it a listen if you're younger and cooler than I am and you don't know it.
"Chloe? Chloe, sweetheart, are you still sleep?" Ange calls softly, gently pushes the living room door fully open. "Chloe?"
"I'm awake now." Chloe's voice is faint, shaky, and she sits cross-legged in the middle of the sofa, bolt upright, Ange's favourite tartan blanket wrapped around her penguin onesie.
"You okay?" she worries, crosses the room to sit beside her because there's something about the look in her eyes, something about how panicked and strangely calm she seems to look all at once that unnerves her, convinces her at once there's something wrong. "Chloe?"
"Appointment's booked," says Chloe simply. "Tuesday at ten. You're off on Tuesday, right?"
She nods. "Yes. Yes, I'm off on Tuesday. Do you want me to come?"
"Sweetheart, you don't even have to ask." She pulls her into her side, hugs her tightly- and she's calm, Ange realises now with relief, calm, breathing slowed, controlled, relaxes into her embrace as though the burden she's been carrying around with her for the last god only knows however long has finally lifted, as though now she's made a decision, taken control of the situation, as though she can breathe again.
"I'm here to support you," she reminds her daughter gently. "Whatever you need. You don't have to ask, Chloe, you just tell me what you need me to do. If you want me there, that's fine. I'll be there. I'd have just phoned in sick if I was supposed to be in work. Okay? You're my priority."
"I haven't…" Chloe pulls her knees up to her chest, shrugs awkwardly, hesitant. "I haven't… I didn't want to assume… I haven't even asked you how you feel about… about choosing to…"
"Chloe. Chloe, look at me." She waits for Chloe to meet her eyes, determined to get through to her. "Listen. All I want is for you to be happy. Okay? I want you to be able to make the right decision for you, I would never want you to be forced into anything you don't want. You have the right to choose, alright? It's your choice. If this is what you want, then I'm one hundred percent behind it. Women didn't spend decades fighting for the right to choose for you to worry about what everyone else wants now. I want to support you, so you tell me what you want to do and I'll be there. It's as simple as that."
"You don't have to thank me, sweetheart. I'm your mum. That's what I'm here for. If that's your decision, then I'm completely behind you. Always. So, I'll pick you up on Tuesday morning, okay? You don't want to drive, I'll pick you up. And I'll tell Sacha I need the rest of the week off, too, just in case…"
"Chloe. If you don't need me, that's fine, but I'll feel much happier knowing I'm off work and I can take care of you if you need it. We'll take it one step at a time. Speaking of which. You don't have to stay down here and be sociable all night," she reminds Chloe firmly. "You look exhausted. You said… earlier, you said you'd known for a while…"
"Only a week, for definite," Chloe whispers. "But I… I kind of knew since I missed the first one. I don't know, I just… I felt different…"
"Well, you're doing an awful lot better than your mother, then. I wish you'd felt you could tell me sooner," Ange sighs. "I wish…"
Chloe shrugs. "I didn't want to upset you. I thought it might… I don't know. I didn't want it to bring back bad memories…"
"Nothing about you is a bad memory, my lovely girl. Nothing. You've been worrying about it all for weeks, then," Ange concludes with a sigh. "No wonder you look so shattered. So, I mean it. Okay? If you want to just take yourself upstairs and sleep, that's totally fine. You can have my bed. Are you staying over tonight?"
"I thought Dom and Carole are staying over?"
"Yep, they are. That way we can all drown our sorrows, can't we? And we've got all the prosecco from the wedding to work through, anyway."
"You guys have."
"You can have prosecco. If that's your decision made, and it's final, you can have as much prosecco as you want, Chloe."
"You haven't got enough beds though, Mum. If Carole and Dom stay over…"
"I have. Carole and Dom in the spare bedrooms, you come in with me. We can just have another throwback to my impoverished student days at Nana's, can't we? It's not like we didn't spend the other week doing that, anyway."
"Twelve," says Chloe quietly. "Twelve weeks ago, Mum."
How has it been twelve weeks? Ange wonders absentmindedly.
It feels as though it were both just yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once.
They both startle a little at the sound of the doorbell.
"That'll be Carole and Dom," Ange tells her quietly. "I'll go and let them in, okay? You stay here…"
"I'm not ill, Mum." Chloe follows her to the front door, pulls Ange's tartan blanket tighter around her shoulders.
"I know. I know, but you're upset, and you're exhausted, and that's totally understandable. So don't put yourself under any pressure. If you decide you just want to go and stick the telly on in my room, have some quiet time and get an early night, you do that." She turns the key in the front door, takes off the safety chain she doesn't remember putting across, opens the door. "That's not a problem. Hi Dom, Carole." She tries to force a smile, appear pleased to see them, welcoming- and she is pleased to see them, of course she is. But she's so drained after today, so weary of it all, that she's not entirely sure she succeeds. "Thanks for coming to us. We're a bit…" She reaches for Chloe's arm, watches her face carefully, on alert. "I'm not sure we're going to be the life and soul of the party tonight, but…"
"Oh, that doesn't matter. We're just glad of the company, aren't we, Dazzle?" Carole smiles brightly, equally forced as she kicks off her shoes inside the front door. "I've got enough prosecco to keep us going through New Year…"
"And we've brought some of the non-alcoholic stuff, too," Dom adds quietly, his eyes meeting Chloe's now, her babies finally getting along with each other again and it's the sweetest thing in the world. "We weren't sure… you know, what the situation was, so we thought…"
"I'm having the prosecco," says Chloe, and there's a slight tremor to her voice, just slight, but at the same time she sounds calm, at peace, mind made up. "I've… I've made an appointment for next week. But thank you, it was really sweet of you to think of…"
She's cut off by Dom dropping the takeaway bags he's carrying to the floor, pulling her into a tight hug, doesn't even hesitate.
"Are you alright?" he whispers.
"It's the right decision," Chloe whispers back, stands on tiptoes, arms around her brother's neck. "Are youalright?"
Dom shrugs, rubs her back.
"It's the right decision," he repeats simply. "Well… it doesn't really feel like it, right now. But I think it's the right decision. I think it will be the right decision, anyway. But… you're sure, right? You're at peace with it?"
Chloe nods silently.
"Okay. Okay. I'm glad. I'm here, alright? If you need anything."
"Come on," says Carole quietly to Ange, seems to understand that they need a moment, just the two of them. "Shall we take all this through to the kitchen?"
"Sure," she nods, bends to retrieve Dom's abandoned takeaway bags. "Thanks so much for bringing this over, Carole. The kitchen's just through here…"
"That's an amazing onesie," Dom comments. "Is it a…"
"It's a penguin. Be careful," Ange can hear Chloe warn as she leaves them behind, leads Carole into the kitchen. "Mum got me this, if she thinks you like it she'll be getting you one, too. I feel so underdressed now, though, you look great…"
"Nah, I'll put my pyjamas on in a minute, you totally won't then. And anyway. You looked great too, at… you know. The vow renewal of the century."
"Don't tell her that, Dom, you'll only encourage her! Do you want to know where she got that outfit?" Ange calls through from the kitchen, busy sorting out plates and cutlery. "My mum. Who wore it to my christening. In 1973."
"It's sustainable fashion, Mum! Wearing your nana's vintage cast-offs is the future!"
"No way, seriously? Nana… Peigi, right? Nana Peigi had amazing taste back in 1973, I like her already. For a seventies christening, though…"
"Had my mum had her way, there wouldn't have been a christening!" Ange shouts back. "I think she boycotted the dresses in defiance of the Catholic establishment."
"Not religious, then?"
"God, no. That was all your granddad." She lifts the plastic containers out of the takeaway bag, suddenly realises what they are. "Carole, you're amazing…"
"Oh, don't thank me," Carole brushes her aside. "I suggested the nice Indian around the corner from the hospital, but Dom insisted, he seemed to think."
"No, you both did perfect," Ange assures her. "Chloe! Chloe, they've brought you sushi!"
"Have they actually?" Chloe and Dom appear in the kitchen doorway, huddled together, Dom's hands on Chloe's shoulders.
"We haven't got you anything with raw fish," Dom covers quickly. "Just because… you know. We weren't sure, we didn't want to wave something in front of you that you couldn't eat. And you know I don't have a clue what I'm doing with sushi, so we just picked a random selection and…"
"Dom. It's sushi. You can't go wrong with sushi. Thank you."
Dom grimaces. "Well, that's a matter of opinion, but I'm glad you're happy. Don't worry, Ange, we went to Yo Sushi for a reason. The rest of us have got chips and chicken katsu burgers."
"I haven't!" Carole protests. "I'm taking Chloe's recommendation, I'm having the sushi. You're going to have to show me how to use the chopsticks though, Chloe."
"Sure." Chloe smiles at her shyly- and as awful as it sounds, it's only in that moment that Ange realises her daughter barely knows Carole, can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she's had an actual, proper conversation with her. "Sure… I can do that."
They have an awful lot of blending to do.
Is that even what happens in this situation? Ange isn't sure.
Is there even a set 'thing' that happens in this situation? Do they all grow closer to one another, spend time together as one family, Dom's family, is Chloe supposed to become comfortable around Carole in the same way she has? Or is that always going to be different?
Ange doesn't know.
What she does know, however, is that her babies are finally learning to love each other again.
Maybe all this had to happen, in a strange sort of way, she considers over her chicken katsu burger- and Dom is right, it's in a different league to Chloe's awful sushi.
Maybe it all had to happen to bring Dom and Chloe back together.
They sit curled up together on the sofa now, Chloe's head resting against Dom's shoulder, Dom holding both their prosecco glasses, and they look… comfortable with each other, now, Ange realises, wave of relief washing over her at last.
A few months ago, she couldn't have imagined this.
She thought they were going to remain slightly awkward and jealous and mildly passive-aggressive around each other forever, but now, it's as though nothing ever changed between them at all.
"More sushi?" Dom offers. "Chlo? There's some of those ones that look like dragon tails left…"
"Dragon tails?" Chloe laughs sleepily, stirs.
"You know. The ones that look like dragon tails."
"Ebi nigiri. That's what it's called in Japanese. Crayfish tails on rice."
"What are you, fluent in Japanese and a karate master?"
"Īe. Shikashi, nihongo no hyōjun shiken de A gurēdo o shutoku shimashita."
"Is there anything you can't do?"
"Oh, plenty. Definitely not a karate master. Or… you know. I wouldn't be in this situation now, would I? And Mum wouldn't be getting me self-defence classes for Christmas. But I did do Japanese for standards. Mum wouldn't let me do Russian."
"You're not making any sense."
"Oh, I know, nor did she."
"She had a choice between Russian and Japanese," Ange explains, on dangerous ground, fights to keep her voice as casual as she can, glances between Carole and her children. "She was in the extension language set, French and Gaelic wasn't enough to keep her occupied, and her teacher wanted to put her in for her Gaelic standard early as it was. And I did not say you couldn't do Russian. I… I merely pointed out that Japanese was probably going to be the more useful option, plus two alphabets to get your head around and the Chinese character things. You always did like a challenge."
"Nope, not that. Although none of that exactly surprises me. But what the hell is standard? Standard what?"
"Like a Scottish GCSE."
"Glad we've sorted that one out. Dragon tail?"
"No thank you." Chloe shuffles awkwardly, pulls at her onesie. "Carole, you have them."
"Oh… no, I'm alright, love. You save them for your lunch tomorrow." Carole reaches for the remains of Ange's chips gratefully.
"Prosecco, then?" Dom holds out the bottle. "You can have the last of…"
Chloe shakes her head, rearranging the fabric around her abdomen again. "I'm okay, thanks."
"Are you alright?" Ange worries. "Chloe?"
"Only you look like you…" she sighs, because it's painfully clear from the stony look on Chloe's face that this isn't going to end well. "You're not in any…"
"I'm fine," Chloe snaps. "I'm fine, Mum. I'm going to use the bathroom." And with that, she storms off out the living room, pouting, thoroughly unimpressed.
"I'm going after her," Ange declares. "I'm just going to knock on the door and check she's alright, it might be…"
"She's fine, Ange," Dom tells her quietly. "She's fine. She's just self-conscious, I think she just needs a minute. Leave it for now."
"How do you…"
Dom sighs. "She'll kill me."
"So there is something? She's told you?"
"Not exactly. Just… I don't know. Call it brotherly intuition."
"I don't know for definite, it's just a…"
"Tell me, Dom."
Dom closes his eyes, surrenders. "She's showing. Just a little bit, but I think she's… I don't know. A little freaked out, I guess. I noticed earlier, I didn't want to say anything, but… I don't know. The way she keeps pulling at her ridiculous penguin costume…"
"Hey, stop making fun of your sister and my brilliant taste in children's section onesies."
"Oh my god, is it actually?"
"Age 13-14 kids. £18, or two for £20. Total bargain. I would have got you one too if they came in adult sizes."
"What exactly are you implying?"
"That you might be a bit tall for the age 15-16 ones."
"Nice save. She'll be alright, Ange. I think she's just… it'll all be over this time next week, won't it? It was probably just the last thing she wanted, now she's made that decision. For it to be physically obvious."
"How did I miss it?" Ange whispers. "I should have realised; how did you see it and I didn't…"
"Because she didn't want us to realise," Dom says simply. "Why else do you think she's walking around in that penguin monstrosity you got her?"
"Oi! I'll have you know she wears that thing all the time, she loves it! I had to stop her wearing it out to the local café with Cam and Nicky a few weeks ago."
"Oh my god, you're both as embarrassing as each other. No, seriously, though. You can't beat yourself up for not noticing, Ange. You haven't had her giving you thirty years' worth of hugs in the space of one evening. She's like a leech. Or… no, I've got it. Penguin huddle."
"I'm so glad you two are getting on again."
"He always did want a little sister," Carole reminisces. "So much so that when I told him not to get his hopes up, he came up with an imaginary one instead."
"Did he actually?"
"Mum!" Dom protests. "Stop embarrassing me in front of my other mum!" He pauses, looks up at the doorway. "Hey, Chlo. You feeling better?"
Chloe shrugs, shut down. "I'm fine. Are you… I'm sorry, I've hardly asked you how you're holding up…"
"Don't be so silly. You're alright. You've had a worse week of it than I have…"
"Your husband left you at the…"
"Hey, don't remind me! You've had it worse, Chlo."
"We're going to have to agree to disagree on that one."
"I can live with that. Right, come on." Dom springs up off the sofa, grabs Chloe's hand, searches through his phone with the other. "Ange, can we use your speakers?"
"Depends what you're going to play through them. I don't know if they can take much more of Kylie."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with Kylie! So. As I didn't get my first dance at the renewal that shall not be named…."
"No, no, no, no, no…"
"Chloe!" Dom exclaims, mock hurt. "Please? Look, you can pick whatever you like from my childhood classics playlist."
"Oh my god, no."
"No!" Ange and Carole protest loudly in unison.
"S Club? Everyone loves S Club…"
"Not in the mood, Dom."
"You're so not my sister."
"Let me look, then!"
Dom sighs, tilts the screen. "Alright. Alright, but if you dare say a word about…"
"Ohhh, is that…"
"You want that one?"
"I can totally live with that one. You were a Lizzie McGuire fan too?"
"Oh, Lizzie McGuire!" Carole repeats. "I remember that one! You made me take you to see the film six times when it was on at the pictures, none of your friends would go with you…."
"Alright, Mum, they don't need to know all my embarrassing childhood anecdotes! I was a huge fan. Life-size cardboard cut-out in my bedroom, and everything. Come on then, Chlo. You can't beat Hilary in her prime." He offers out his hand, ballroom hold style, presses play.
"Are we seriously doing a first dance to Hilary Duff?" Chloe raises her eyebrows, but she takes Dom's hand anyway, allows him to guide her around Ange's living room.
"Of course we are. Remind me, what were Lizzie's best friends called?"
"Miranda and Gordo!" Ange tells him. "And you call yourself a huge fan?"
"Hey, like, fifteen years ago!"
"Look at them," Carole murmurs to Ange, shuffles over on the sofa as they watch Dom and Chloe together, dancing around the living room, laughing, singing along. "You'd never know they were raised apart for the best part of thirty years, would you?"
"No," Ange agrees quietly, heart melting a little. "No, you wouldn't."
"We haven't had much luck with guys, have we, Chlo?" remarks Dom absentmindedly, as So Yesterday fades away over Ange's speakers. "Maybe we should give girls a try instead."
If it's over, let it go and
Come tomorrow, it will seem
So yesterday, so yesterday
I'm just a bird that's already flown away
Laugh it off, and let it go and
When you wake up, it will seem
So yesterday, so yesterday
Haven't you heard that I'm going to be okay?
- Hilary Duff, So Yesterday (2003)
I hope you enjoyed! This was kind of like a practice run for my Hogmanay story I'm writing, so if you would like more Dom and Chloe, do let me know! Reviews are always appreciated.