Welcome back friends! Thanks so much for your patience as I worked on this first chapter :)

I'm really excited to share this third installment with you. Like I said in the Epilogue in It Takes a Village, this one is definitely going to bring back the angst, especially in the first half, so fair warning. But that being said, it is also going to have plenty of fluff and Bechloe family moments. Even though it starts off roughly 18 years from where It Takes a Village left off, we'll get to see what happened during those years through flashbacks and just general narration.

I'm going to continue trying to update every three days or so, but it is currently midterm season and school and work is kind of getting crazy right now, but if the updates are going to move to every week I'll definitely let you all know.

The first few chapters might seem a little slow, but it's simply because we have to catch up with our favorite family! I can't wait to hear what you guys think :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Pitch Perfect or any of the characters.

Chapter 1

18 Years Later

The steaming mug of tea is hot against Beca's hand, the heat from the glass serving as a nice distraction from the ache that's been in her chest all weekend. Really, she should have known it wouldn't have been easy. She should have known that this time was going to be just as painful – if not more so – than the first two. But this time… it happened so suddenly. They hadn't had a chance to process it. Hadn't had a chance to prepare.

The thirty-six-year-old makes her way up the stairs of their home, the place that nowadays seems to feel more empty than Beca ever thought it would. With each step, she gets closer and closer to the closed bedroom door that she's been distancing herself from for the last two hours. Not that she's wanted to distance herself from it. It just about killed her to step away. She knew she needed to, though. Chloe needed her space.

That was two hours ago. Two hours ago, when their front door closed and Chloe had collapsed in Beca's hold for a solid ten minutes, the brunette simply running her hands through Chloe's loose curls and whispering quiet sentiments that she knew meant nothing to her wife in that moment. Chloe's tears hadn't stopped falling when she separated herself from Beca's arms and mumbled something about wanting some time alone for a little while, before walking briskly upstairs and closing the bedroom door behind her.

The same bedroom door that Beca finds herself staring at right now. She takes a deep breath, preparing herself for the worst – because, yes, seeing Chloe in pain, is by far one of the hardest things for Beca to fathom – before knocking lightly on the door. She doesn't wait for an answer, assuming that she probably isn't going to get one, before slowly pushing the door open with her shoulder.

Her heart just about shatters when she takes in the scene in front of her.

Chloe has tucked herself into the far corner of the twin bed, her head leaning up against the wall, eyes closed to the world. A small sweatshirt that was left behind is clutched in her hands, holding the piece of clothing to her chest as though willing the little boy to be in it instead.


Slowly, Chloe opens her eyes. From the tears, her red-rimmed orbs are even more blue than normal. As soon as she sees Beca standing in the doorway, her lip starts to tremble. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, no… none of that." Beca crosses the threshold immediately, trying her best to avoid glancing around the much emptier bedroom, before placing the tea on the bedside table. She climbs up beside Chloe just as quickly, delicately pulling the redhead into her side. Chloe practically melts into her wife's hold. "You have nothing to be sorry about."

The silence that follows is welcomed by both women, only the occasional sniffle coming from Chloe as they sit in each other's company. Because really, what else is there to be said? After twelve years of marriage and seven years of dating prior to that, both Beca and Chloe have come to learn the intricacies of their quirks and movements. Zero words need to be exchanged in order for them to understand what the other is saying. It amazes some of their friends at times, the fact that they can have an entire conversation with just a simple gaze or a laugh. The fact that they can be in each other's presence and have a mutual understanding that they might just need a hug or the comfort of the other's arm around them.

But right now, sitting in this bedroom, it's more shared grief than anything. Something that Beca wishes Chloe never had to experience, and Chloe vice versa for Beca. The only thing that makes it better, is that they aren't alone in this state of despair.

"Where's Rosie?"

Rosie. The two women's pride and joy. The little girl that holds their entire heart. She epitomizes Chloe's personality in every way, but both of her moms can already see some of Beca's sass and mannerisms coming through as she gets older. The spunky five-year-old is a ball of sunshine that has been their saving grace throughout this entire process.

Beca brings her fingers lightly through Chloe's hair. "Macy offered to keep her over night. She'll get her to school in the morning."

Chloe takes Beca's free hand in hers, running a fingertip over her wedding band. "Did you talk to her?"

"Mhmm. I told her we'd call before bed, too."

"Was she okay?"

Beca nods even though Chloe isn't looking at her. It's more for her reassurance than anything. "She was more concerned with whether or not you were okay. She said that I could come and get Finley so that you could have him tonight."

Tears almost instantly swell in Chloe's eyes once more, thinking about the fact that her five-year-old daughter is offering up her teddy bear for the night because of how upset she is. That shouldn't be happening. They should be taking care of her, not the other way around.

But the weight of it all…

First McKenna.

Then Carter.

Now Eli.

It has torn Chloe apart. She knows that she needs to be there for Rosie, and she loves that little girl more than anything. But she had given a piece of her heart to each one of those kids. It's just... a lot.

Almost as though reading her mind, Beca bends down so she can lock eyes with her wife. "Don't do that. It's okay for her to see us upset."

Chloe takes a deep, shuddering breath. She stops playing with Beca's ring, and instead links their hands, clinging on to the brunette like the lifeline she is. "I don't think I can do it anymore, Bec. At least not for a while. Not like this."

It wasn't even supposed to end up 'like this.' That had been one of the first things that Beca and Chloe talked about when the redhead had presented the idea of becoming foster parents to the other woman. It was after Rosie was born, which was a difficult endeavor in and of itself, and the idea had been rattling around Chloe's mind for a while. She wasn't sure if Beca would be willing to consider it, especially if it involved opening up some old wounds that she had long since moved past.

Yet, Beca agreed almost instantly, and together, they called the Atlanta DCF office the following morning.

It had been a long process. There were background and reference checks. Countless home visits that seemed more like home inspections to the women. There was a counseling session and an orientation and then the actual training. Even medical exams. But they knew it would be worth it in the end. If it meant expanding their families, gaining another son or daughter, giving Rosie a sibling… it would all be worth it.

Originally, they had only been licensed as foster-to-adopt parents. Beca and Chloe had both easily decided on that. They knew that they were going to get attached to the kids placed with them almost instantly, and Beca, specifically, didn't want to be added to the list of 'stops' in a child's life. She wanted to be the destination. Chloe had agreed without hesitation – with a heart as big as hers, and being the incredibly empathetic person that she is, she knew it would be ten times more difficult to be just a temporary placement.

Then, they got their first phone call from Rachel, their caseworker.

It had been about three and a half weeks after they were officially licensed, and Rachel didn't have anywhere else to send a four-year-old little girl. So, she called up her newest set of foster parents and had practically begged them to take her for a few months while her mother was in rehab.

McKenna was a sweetheart. There truly is no other way to describe her. She and Rosie got along better than Chloe or Beca could ever hope; they would spend hours playing together in the wide expanse of the Mitchell's backyard. McKenna was polite, she loved telling stories and playing with the dollhouse in Rosie's bedroom, and especially loved when Beca and Chloe sang to the girls before bedtime. She hated mint toothpaste but loved the little Andes chocolates that Lisa always has on the coffee table in their living room. It was obvious that she missed her mom, and Beca and Chloe quickly came around to the idea of just being there for the little girl as her mother got better.

It was the beginning of summer when McKenna moved in, and with Chloe off from work, the redhead spent her days bringing Rosie and McKenna to the park, to the museums, visiting Beca at the label… basically doing whatever they wanted. All three of the Mitchell girls tried their hardest not to get attached to McKenna, knowing full well that, come the end of the summer, she would be back home with her birth mom. Beca and Chloe wanted that for her – they really did. That didn't make it any easier, though, when the visitations become more frequent and the date of the court hearing came around, and McKenna was reunited with the person she so desperately missed.

It had been hard to say goodbye and to pack McKenna's suitcases with the items she had collected during her stay. Rosie, being just over the age of three, had been especially confused. Beca and Chloe had tried to prepare her for the inevitable, but McKenna had become not just a best friend, but a sister. At least Beca and Chloe understood the complexity of the situation. Rosie had just been heartbroken.

Months passed after McKenna left before the Mitchells heard from Rachel again. They, of course, were waiting for the call that said she had the perfect child for them. The child that would make their little family complete. Yet that call never came. Instead, their home phone rang with another request (and apology) from the social worker: a little boy had just been born to a woman who was hopped up on some sort of narcotic and they would need to remove him from her care once he was healthy enough to leave the hospital.

One week later, Carter moved in.

It was pretty amazing having a baby in the house again. Beca was obsessed with watching Chloe dote over the newborn (as well as everyone else in their family, as they had with McKenna), and both moms were equally mesmerized with watching Rosie be an older sister. Carter only made their desire to have more kids grow stronger, and though they knew he, too, would eventually be reunited with his mother, they allowed themselves to become attached.

Six months later, after cheering him on through various milestones and getting to see his little personality form, they handed Carter off to his birth mother, who had completed her reunification steps only five days prior.

It had been another very long few weeks in the Mitchell household. As much as they tried to convince themselves otherwise, Beca and Chloe were heartbroken and confused. They knew they were meant to have more children; they had always talked about having a big family, but the stars just didn't seem to be aligning for them. Even with that belief, they questioned whether it was meant to be. They questioned whether or not they had made the right decision to foster. They questioned whether or not they made the right decision to pause on IVF, even with the struggles that they had prior to, and with, Rosie.

Luckily, they had their jobs to keep them busy, and they had Rosie. Rosie truly was the only brightness in their lives following Carter's move back into his mother's custody. Her laugh, her constant requests to sing and dance in the kitchen, and just her general being. It was like she knew her moms needed reassurance. Reassurance that they were doing everything right. Reassurance that they were going to be alright.

And, eventually, they were. They grieved the loss of Carter and they cherished their time with their daughter. Because, as much as they wanted more kids, Rosie was theirs – through and through. She was their happiness, the mini-Chloe that Beca had always dreamt about running around.

Then, they got the phone call. The phone call that they'd been waiting for. Rachel had a little boy, recently removed from a neglect situation, that was in need of a loving family. He was in need of a home.

They met Elijah for the first time in one of the conference rooms at Rachel's office. They pulled Rosie out of school early and made the drive into the city together, all of them anxious to meet the two-year-old. Rachel told them that it was basically a done deal – as soon as they wanted to pursue adoption, there would be a few pieces of paperwork, a quick court hearing, and then Elijah Simpson would become Elijah Mitchell.

It had taken a little while for Eli to get comfortable. He hadn't come from the best situation, but eventually, he started warming up to the women. How could he not? Chloe and Beca showered him and Rosie with love; they held them while they cried, they told them stories, and took them on adventures. They would do anything for those two kids. Pictures of the four of them started popping up around the house, they fell into their routine, and everything was perfect.

He had called them Mama and Mommy, just like Rosie.

It took about ten months before they started filling out the adoption paperwork. They didn't want to tell Rosie or Eli about it until it was sure to happen. They told their family members, though. They told Macy and the Beales; they told Aubrey and Stacie, and the rest of the Bellas. They had told them that Eli was going to be a permanent member of their family.

They had told themselves that Eli was going to be a permanent member of their family.

That was a month ago.

Before they knew it, they were getting another phone call from Rachel. This one much more devastating than the last.

She had been filing the paperwork and getting everything together, when she discovered that paternal rights had never been terminated. They always knew that Elijah had a biological father out there somewhere but had been told that he would be a nonissue.

They had been told it would be a 'done deal.'

Within a matter of weeks, the court was siding with the birth father that hadn't been around for the worst two years of his son's life, and Elijah was being taken out of the one home he knew.

The one family he had ever known.

Beca and Chloe were saying goodbye to their son, Rosie was saying goodbye to her brother, and their house suddenly felt so much emptier than it had before.

So, when Beca hears Chloe's admission, that she doesn't want to do 'this' anymore, she feels a slight wave of relief wash over her.

Beca presses another kiss into the top of her wife's head. "Then we won't. We'll go talk to Rachel tomorrow and tell her we're out."

Chloe sighs deeper into Beca's hold, her head leaning against the brunette's chest. She can hear her heart beating evenly against it; the sound is soothing and works to slow her own heart rate. It's the greatest comfort in the world, Chloe is sure of it.

The following afternoon comes slowly for Beca and Chloe Mitchell, the twenty-four hours separating Eli's departure from now, being filled with more tears, an uneaten dinner, and a night wrapped in each other's arms. The one semblance of relief the couple got, was when they FaceTimed with Rosie before her bedtime. The little girl seemed to be having the time of her life, and while Beca knew that she should have been focusing on her daughter's animated stories about the restaurant she got to eat at with Auntie M, all she could focus on was Macy's concerned face over Rosie's shoulder.

They've been fielding texts and calls from their family all weekend, and especially last night, which is when everyone knew Elijah would be removed from the Mitchell home. Beca had been smart enough to silence her wife's phone, trying to reduce any and all reminders of the ordeal that they had gone through that afternoon. As much as they love their family, both Beca and Chloe knew that they needed to come to terms with it themselves before reliving it in the sympathetic eyes of their loved ones.

That's partially what they're doing now as the two women walk hand-in-hand down the street towards the Atlanta DCFS office, the same office that Beca spent many mornings, afternoons, and nights in when she was a kid.

It had been kind of unnerving the first time Beca had walked back into the building. It looked almost identical to how it had all those years ago; the paint was the same, the posters of the happy families in the lobby was still there. The cubicles were still arranged in the same clustered pattern. She had even picked out the conference room that her and Macy had slept in the night of her parents' accident. Of course, it had been much easier to face with Chloe by her side and the intent of the visit being for solely happy purposes instead of having to worry about protecting her little sister, but it was still strange, without a doubt.

Now, a sense of dread fills Beca's stomach as the tall edifice comes into view. She grips Chloe's hand tighter, doing everything in her power to be a force of stability and strength for the redhead as they approach the building in silence, the only noise coming from the busyness of the city streets.

Beca opens the main entrance for Chloe, the redhead leading the pair towards the elevator afterward. There's such a somber tone to this visit, that it completely contradicts the others that they've made in recent years. She leans up against Beca's side once they're on the way to the tenth floor.

"Is Macy working today?"

Beca shakes her head. "She's out doing home visits in some of the other counties."

As Macy got older and she began planning for college, she decided that she wanted to go into the social work field. It had come as a shock to everyone that was close to her, but Beca, especially. After having such a traumatic childhood associated with that field, her older sister couldn't imagine why she was even thinking about pursuing that kind of work.

Macy did just fine during high school. Her, Beca, and Chloe lived happily in the same apartment that the sisters originally moved into following the emancipation. She was doing well in all of her classes, Chloe was working towards her degree, and Beca was climbing the ladder at Residual Heat. Macy continued to see a therapist on a regular basis, and their little family was a loving and safe space for all three of them, which definitely added to the reasoning behind Macy's decision.

Beca remembers the conversation vividly in her mind. It was right around the end of Macy's junior year in high school. Chloe had gotten home from her student-teaching for the day, mere months away from graduation. Beca got back after a day at the studio and began making dinner, and Macy had perched herself at the kitchen counter and told both of them that she decided that she wanted to pursue social work as a major. She wanted to be that kind and caring advocate to kids in foster care that Beca and Macy lacked when they were in the system.

It had stunned Beca into silence, but she knew that if it would make Macy happy, she would support her in any way possible. And she did.

Macy went off to Barden with Benji and Emily, the three of them having mended their relationship sometime around the middle of their freshmen year. She got her BSW and later her Master's, and now she works out of the Atlanta office. The best part is, she loves her job and the kids she works with. Sure, it's difficult, but Macy is constantly reminding herself that it's harder on the kids.

It's not like she has forgotten what it was like.

The elevator lets out a quiet 'ding', signaling that they have reached the floor for the office of the Department of Children and Family Services, causing Beca's heart to stop in her chest once more. She musters a small smile, leading Chloe across the threshold, their respective heels clicking against the floor, before entering the office.

The fluorescent lights are almost blinding in the lobby, its harshness being nowhere near as comforting as the sunshine they just left, was. A couple of other adults are sitting in some of the seats around the room, as well as a few children, but sight of it all makes Chloe's throat tighten.

Beca presses her lips into Chloe's temple, whispering so that only she can hear. "I'll go check us in and then I'm going to run to the bathroom. You want to go grab a seat?"

Chloe nods, squeezing Beca's hand briefly before releasing it. "Love you."

A small smile appears almost instantly on the brunette's face. "Love you, too."

As Beca goes off to the desk, Chloe makes her way over to a pair of chairs in the far corner of the lobby. She keeps her eyes focused on the ground, trying not to wonder what the other people are waiting for, though she knows it's probably a mixture of birth parents waiting for visitation and foster parents like her and Beca. When she finally gets to the plastic chairs, she takes a seat with a sigh, placing her bag on her lap.

Both her and Beca went to work today, neither one of them wanting to sit around in a house where there are constant reminders of Eli and the fun times they've had. Her students, a mixture of all grades in the high school, except for her Advanced Placement English class, which is only seniors, must have noticed something was off, because there weren't any behavioral problems or excessive complaining. Plus, their plan had worked, and Chloe quickly found herself getting lost in the lesson and the papers she hadn't had a chance to grade over the weekend.

Yet here they are, all of the memories of the last couple of weeks flooding her mind once more. It makes her heart hurt.

Chloe finally lifts her gaze from the linoleum flooring, flicking her eyes from each grouping of people in the lobby. The receptionists are separated from the rest of them by a glass partition that opens and closes from the inside, and they're busily typing away. The redhead recognizes some of them, but there's a generally quick turn-over rate in the office, so she isn't sure if they're the same people that she's chatted with before.

To her left, a woman in a pressed suit is bouncing a toddler on her leg, and Chloe almost instantly sees the DCF badge secured on her hip. She could be from a different county, but she's chatting with another social worker who's standing over her, so maybe not.

There's a man and a woman sitting on the other side of the social workers a few seats down, clasping their hands together in silence. Chloe doesn't even want to think about what they're here for.

She uses her right hand to start twisting her engagement ring and her wedding ring around the base of her finger. It's become a comforting tactic ever since Beca slid the first one on when she was twenty-two, the ring being a constant reminder that even if Beca isn't there in person, she's still there. As much as Chloe has always been there as a force of support and comfort for Beca, Beca has done the same for Chloe countless of times, too.

Chloe turns her head to the right, trying to finish her analysis of the rest of the people in the lobby before Beca gets back and laughs at her for doing so. Her heart clenches in her chest when she locks eyes with someone staring back at her, though, finding a little girl clearly watching her every move.

She can't be more than three-years-old. At least, that's what Chloe is inferring from her size. In one hand, she's holding what looks like a worn-out bunny stuffed animal, the stretched out legs and ears hanging dangerously close to the floor. Her brunette hair is cropped just below her chin, with a few pieces clipped back with a barrette to hold it away from her face. She doesn't smile and she doesn't make any effort to acknowledge the fact that Chloe has discovered that she was watching her. Instead, she just takes a step closer to the chairs to her left, closer to what looks like a younger boy sleeping across three of them, a jacket over his slumped body.

Chloe never breaks eye contact with the little girl, a kind, genuine, smile breaking across her face for what feels like the first time in years. She stops playing with her rings, and instead lifts her hand, waggling her fingers in the girl's direction in a wave.

Instead of reacting to Chloe's gesture, the girl keeps staring at her, her little hand continuing to grip the stuffed animal. She keeps an intense hold of Chloe's baby blues, as though trying to decipher what exactly is hiding behind them.

And Chloe, being, well, Chloe, doesn't waver. Her grin seems to widen, her worries about their upcoming meeting with Rachel melting away. She contorts her face into a humorous expression, sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes, hoping to get any sort of reaction from the girl across the lobby. When she refocuses, sure enough, there is the smallest hint of a smile on her face.

It makes Chloe's heart swell.

As Chloe continues to smile at her, the little girl seems to contemplate her options. She never once looks away, but she eventually takes a hesitant step forward, sliding into a seat that is only a few down from Chloe's.

The redhead makes the executive decision to take the seat that she had been saving for Beca, which is one chair closer to the girl's, and places her bag in the chair that she leaves. She leans over her knees, angling herself so that she can actually have a conversation with her. It's quiet enough that Chloe doesn't need to talk loudly, and luckily, even with the chairs in between them, they can hear the other.

"Hi, cutie. What's your name?"

The little girl doesn't answer, simply moving her bunny to her lap, and twisting his long ear around her finger.

Chloe smiles again. "I'm Chloe. I like your bunny."

She looks down at the stuffed animal before glancing back up at Chloe. She starts to swing her legs back and forth from where they're dangling from the height of the chair.

Before Chloe can say anything else, the door separating the lobby from the offices and cubicles, swings open with a bang. Chloe finds herself looking up at the new arrival with everyone else in the lobby, and rather than being met by Rachel, another child – well, teen, more accurately – comes to a stop right by the sleeping boy that Chloe's new friend had just been standing by.

The teen's expression softens at the sight of him, and she runs a hand over her face, pushing a few stray pieces of dirty blonde hair that have fallen from her bun, behind her ear. Chloe watches as she lets out a heavy sigh, before suddenly jerking her head upwards and flicking her eyes around the lobby, until they land on the girl sitting two seats down from Chloe.

"Ava, I told you to stay with J." The teen advances to the little girl – Ava – quickly, not really waiting for a response, before lifting her from the chair and placing the toddler on her hip. Ava doesn't object, and simply lays her head on the teen's shoulder without a word. The teen glances over at Chloe, locking eyes with her briefly before saying, "Sorry if she was bothering you."

Chloe waves her off immediately, her smile remaining ever present as she finally has a name to connect with the little girl, who watches as she interacts with the teen – her sister, most likely, but Chloe guesses she could be her mom, too. "Not at all. She's a sweetheart."

The teen just gives her a tight-lipped smile and a brief nod, before turning her back to Chloe. She returns to the boy spread across the chairs, and squats down beside him, rubbing her hand up and down his back until he stirs and awakens, very clearly taking in his surroundings as soon as his eyes are open. The two whisper between each other, Chloe no longer being able to hear anything that's happening, but she keeps an eye on them, nonetheless. The boy stands, holding his jacket with one hand, before grabbing a few bags from the ground, underneath where he was laying. With the way the material sags, it's clear that they aren't very full, and he carries all three of them, as the teen leads both him and Ava back towards the offices, the little girl watching Chloe over the teen's shoulder as they get further and further away.

Chloe keeps her eyes trained on the hallway that Ava was brought down, even after the door has closed behind them, remembering the way her eyes had stayed on Chloe the entire time they 'talked.' It brings a little bit of relief to the pain that's been in her heart over the last few days, and she knows that some of that is evident as soon as Beca sits back down beside her.

"What has you all smiley?"

Chloe jolts slightly, still lost in her reverie, when Beca takes her hand back in hers. Chloe shrugs, "I made a new friend."

A light laugh escapes Beca's lips as she glances around the lobby, no one sitting anywhere near Chloe; it's one of Chloe's favorite sounds and she's missed it more than anything. "Oh yeah? Was she real or imaginary?"

Chloe rolls her eyes, laying her head on Beca's shoulder. "She was very real, thank you very much."

"Mhmm… I'm sure."

Chloe pulls back with a scoff, trying to meet Beca's mirth-filled orbs and come up with something clever to say, before the door to the lobby opens once again. This time, a familiar figure makes their way to where Beca and Chloe are sitting, a sad smile on her face. "Beca, Chloe… you two ready to come back?"

Beca stiffens at the presence of their case worker, much like she used to when she was in foster care herself. This time, though, it's more so because of the pain she's caused her and her wife, rather than the pain she's caused her and her sister. One thing is for sure: it kills her whichever way it happens.

Beca and Chloe wordlessly follow Rachel into the office space in the direction one of the conference rooms. While Beca focuses on not staring daggers at the woman, her hand firmly in Chloe's, Chloe, herself has her head on a swivel, hoping to catch a glimpse of the three kids that she had sort of met in the lobby. Unfortunately, she doesn't get to investigate for long, because it is only a few seconds before they're being directed to sit at one side of the table, and Rachel is closing the door behind them.

Unlike some of their other meetings, this time, Rachel isn't carrying any sort of folder or laptop. Instead, she simply leans back in her chair, folding her hands together. "How are you holding up? I'm sorry I couldn't be there yesterday; I was having difficulties with another case."

Chloe doesn't say anything as Beca runs her thumb over the back of her hand. It's probably for the best, considering Chloe isn't sure what will come out if she starts to address Rachel's apology. Luckily, Beca has her covered.

"We're not great, thanks for asking."

Rachel doesn't even look bothered by the bite in Beca's comment. "That's understandable. I truly apologize for how everything… ended. That never should have happened."

Chloe grips Beca's hand tighter, the tears starting to prick at the back of her eyes. No. It shouldn't have.

Beca clears her throat, a tactic that Chloe has come to recognize as an attempt to hide any emotions in her voice. "Yeah, that's uh… that's actually what we wanted to meet with you about."

The woman, who can't be much older than Beca and Chloe, nods. "Okay."

"Chloe and I have been talking, and after what happened with Elijah, we need to take a step back from fostering. At least for a little while."

Rachel sighs, but doesn't look at all surprised. "I figured that was why you wanted to talk in person." When she had gotten Beca's phone call early that morning, her heart instantly sank. She knows that Beca and Chloe are some of the best foster parents that the department has – it's why she's been searching for the perfect permanent placement for them. She thought she had done it with Elijah, but that clearly didn't work out. "Would you like to stay on as adoptive parents?"

Beca locks eyes with the social worker. "Only if it isn't going to end up like this."

She gives the brunette a small nod. "Understood. And again, I know we've talked before, but I truly am sorry about Eli… he loved you guys."

For the first time since sitting down with Rachel, Chloe speaks, her voice wavering. "We loved him, too. We always will."

Beca gives her hand a light squeeze, agreeing with her without hesitation. "We will."

Rachel gives the women a sad smile, the conversation coming to a natural end. There really isn't anything else to say. "Well, I appreciate that you both took the time off to come and talk with me in person… I know how busy you both are with work and with Rosie, so, truly, thank you." She reaches out her hand, first shaking Beca's, and then Chloe's.

"Thanks for meeting us on such short notice, Rachel."

The social worker nods, opening the door for them so that they can leave the conference room, both moms feeling a weight fall off of their shoulders. But even so, with this slight relief, Chloe can't help but let her mind drift back to Ava's little face smiling back at her.

I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter, the next one will be up on Friday. I can't wait to hear what you all think!