Thank you all for the support last chapter!
NJCE - That is so cool that you try and predict what's going to happen in the next chapter! Have you been right so far? All of your reactions to the last chapter are totally accurate and valid. This chapter shows a lot of Beca and Chloe's emotions and thoughts from the night before, and while everything won't be resolved, they'll make some headway with at least one of the siblings. But yeah, Beca was angry - and scared, I think - about what happened with Quinn and then with everything with Jordan... busy night in the Mitchell household! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and kind words, and thank you for the review! I hope you like this chapter!
Isaiah Flamez - Welcome! Beca and Chloe are fostering three siblings: Quinn, Jordan, and Ava. It's been touch and go so far, mostly with Quinn who has been reluctant to get to know the moms and has been fighting back against their rules. Chapter 12 directly follows the last chapter in which Quinn snuck out to go see her friend Izzy. Thanks so much for joining us!
Wolvezzz - I'm glad you're loving the angst because we have a few more chapters of it before things start to look up. I'm so glad that you've found solace in these stories, and feel insanely privileged that you've felt comfortable enough sharing all that you have. These stories and these characters aren't going anywhere soon, so I hope they continue to provide you with that escape and whatever other comfort you are searching for :)
Guest - You are definitely right - Beca's anger was stemming more from her being scared and surprised, which we will, unfortunately see again in a few chapters. It's difficult to handle the actions of a teenager on their own, but combined with everything that happened with Ava and Jordan, too... it's just complicated all around. Chapter 12 shows Beca and Chloe sort of working through that confusion, and all six members of the Mitchell family will continue to stick together to make sure no one is left behind. Thanks so much for the review and your support!
Suppressing her fifth yawn that has snuck up on her as she walks down the street, Beca, bleary-eyed and with her mind foggy, makes her way into the café around the corner from the label. She runs her hand over her face, pulling the door open as she does so. She's exhausted, and she's almost certain that her current appearance is enough evidence of that. But then again, she's working on about two, maybe three, hours of sleep, so she doesn't really care.
Beca allows her feet to carry her in the familiar direction of the booth in the far corner, a faint yet genuine smile appearing when she sees who is waiting for her. "Hey, munch."
Macy rolls her eyes with a chuckle, bringing the slightly shorter brunette in for a tight hug. After she had to miss Sunday Night Dinner for a mandatory weekend shift as the emergency social worker on call, she's glad that she's able to see Beca on Monday morning instead. "Bec, I'm thirty-one; you're going to have to stop calling me 'munch' at some point."
"You love it, and you know it." Beca sinks into her chair, taking a hearty sip of the coffee that Macy's already gotten for her, sighing as soon as it hits her lips. This will be her third cup of the morning, and it's only nine.
"Uh oh," Macy takes a sip from her own mug, eyeing her older sister suspiciously. "Rough night?"
Beca scoffs, "You have no idea."
Macy's eyebrows shoot upward. "What happened?"
Honestly, Beca still isn't sure how everything fell apart as quickly as it did. One minute she was downstairs talking to Aubrey and Stacie about how great the kids were doing, and the next she was driving across the city and picking up Quinn from a random house that definitely had something going on inside. Then she was listening to her yell, and Beca was raising her voice, and there was a slamming of a bedroom door, and her and Chloe were comforting a sobbing Jordan...
All in all, not a fun time.
Quinn stormed out of the bedroom shortly after her last words to Beca and Chloe, carrying Ava with her. They're not exactly sure when Ava calmed down and when her and Quinn got to bed, but it took about an hour and a half of Beca and Chloe sitting with Jordan for him to fall asleep once more. He had been heartbroken, and understandably so. His breathing took forever to get back to a normal pace, and he was shaking for the better part of the time that Beca and Chloe laid with him. It was even a struggle to get him back to his bedroom so they could lay with him there. They were eventually able to get him to close his eyes, and after another twenty minutes of Chloe rubbing his back and Beca running her thumb across his forehead, the eight-year-old succumbed to sleep.
When everyone woke up this morning, they were all zombies. Rosie was the only one who looked remotely rested and had been thoroughly confused as to why everyone was acting so weird (Aubrey and Stacie kept her downstairs with them until Jordan fell asleep).
Quinn didn't speak a word to anyone except for Ava all morning, getting herself and her younger sister ready without talking to or even looking in Beca, Chloe, and Jordan's direction. It didn't take long for Jordan's tears to start flowing once he realized Quinn was ignoring him; Chloe had tried getting Quinn to apologize, but it just ended with her getting a dirty look and the teen leaving the kitchen.
The few hours of sleep that her and Chloe did get last night were restless. Both of them were tossing and turning, struggling with their own emotions after taking care of their kids'. They couldn't even really talk about what happened just because they were both so fried. This morning was no different, but the two women definitely held on a little tighter to each other when they said goodbye before Chloe left for work.
As Beca recounts their lovely Sunday night, Macy's jaw slowly drops open. Her eyes widen as the story unfolds; her hands wrapped neatly around the coffee mug. When Beca finishes, Macy blows out a breath of air, her cheeks puffing out as she does so. "Wow."
Beca tilts her head in acknowledgement. "Yeah."
"That's… that's tough, Bec. I'm sorry." The younger Mitchell sister shakes her head to herself. "How are you doing now? How is Chloe?"
All Beca can do is offer a shrug. "Besides being absolutely exhausted? I'm not really sure." She picks at a loose thread on her blouse. "I'm still sort of numb; I feel like I have no idea what happened… it's all sort of a blur. Chloe and I haven't really gotten a chance to talk. We did a little last night, but it was mostly about Jordan and Ava. Hopefully we'll get to talk tonight."
"Make sure you do." Macy knows, perhaps better than anyone except for Chloe, that Beca is notorious for keeping her emotions to herself. "You said Jordan was still pretty upset this morning?"
"The poor kid was crying before we said good morning." Beca picks at her napkin, her heart hurting at the thought of how puffy Jordan's eyes were when she woke him up. "I think I'm going to go stop by the school when he's at lunch to see how he's doing."
Macy furrows her eyebrows. "You think he's comfortable enough for you to do that?"
Slowly, Beca nods. "I think so. He was pretty clingy to both me and Chloe this morning once he saw that Quinn was still upset. Plus, Benji told us that he hasn't been talking to anyone else in his class, so I won't be interrupting anything."
"What about Ava? Was she talking this morning?"
"She did to Rosie, but when Quinn was around she stayed quiet. She said goodbye to Chloe before we left, though, and then talked in the car."
Macy gives her sister a small smile. "That's great, Bec."
"Yeah. We were a little scared when she wasn't talking at breakfast, but once Quinn was gone..."
Macy gives an involuntary flinch. "What are you guys going to do about her?"
"I really have no idea." Beca leans back in her chair, bringing her fingers up to the roots of her hair, and tugging gently, the throbbing inside of her head dulling slightly after the new supply of caffeine. "It's just so weird because, a part of me completely understands where she's coming from. I get wanting to protect her younger siblings, I get wanting to keep yourself closed off. I get it, more than anything. I lived the same way for seven-plus years."
A sigh escapes Beca's lips, "But then there's the other part of me – the parent part, the adult part – that knows she is safer here than at any of the foster homes we were in, and, most likely, any of the foster homes she's been in. Her birth mom was obviously involved with drugs and she didn't have a good relationship with her – she's mentioned that much to Chloe, and neither of the other kids have said more than a couple of words about her – and I doubt, based on everything that Rachel's said, that they had a good relationship with any of their previous foster parents. I just don't understand what we're doing wrong."
Macy runs her hands over her face, locking eyes with her older sister, and taking in all of her words. It took a while for Beca to finally start treating her like an adult; to finally accept that she could share whatever was on her mind with Macy. On some degree, she's sure that Beca will always want to keep some things from her – that just comes with what they've been through, and the general territory of having your sister as your guardian – but Macy's just glad that now, years later, Beca can share this stuff with her. "I don't think you're doing anything wrong."
Beca looks at her in disbelief. "Really? What would you call it?"
Macy takes a deep breath, tapping her nails against the ceramic of her mug. "Beca, you said it yourself: you understand where she's coming from. And no matter how much you know she's safer with you than anyone else, you can't force her to think that."
"I mean yeah, but –"
"No, no 'buts'. You may not like it, but you know just as well as I do why she's acting the way she is. She's scared. She's scared for herself; she's scared for Ava and Jordan; she's probably scared for her friend. This is her fourteenth placement in three years, Bec. You didn't trust anyone after we had three in three years. Why should she?"
"Okay, but there's a difference between not trusting anyone and blatantly disregarding every attempt we've made and disrespecting every rule that we've tried to establish with them. It's not even like we have that many rules!"
Macy holds up her hands slightly. "You know that, Chloe knows that, and I know that, but to a sixteen-year-old that has never had any parental guidance in her life, she's not going to agree with every little thing that you and Chlo tell her to do. I'm not saying that what she did wasn't wrong, because it was, but to her, going to see her friend – what was her name again?"
"Going to see Izzy was probably a combination of different factors, including it providing some semblance of the life that she led prior to moving in with you guys."
Beca closes her eyes. "Please don't tell me that."
"Because when Chloe and I got there, they were smoking – well, I don't know if Quinn was, but Izzy was for sure – and it wasn't a good neighborhood and after everything that happened there with Quinn's birth mom, and we still have no idea who this Izzy girl even is or what she's up to…I'd rather not think of that as her old life."
Macy quirks an eyebrow. "But it is, Beca. That's where they came from. You can't erase it. You're going to have to embrace it, to some degree, and not just with Quinn but with Ava and Jordan, too." The younger Mitchell sister lets out a sigh. "And that doesn't just mean acknowledging and helping them cope with their trauma, because I know you already do that. It also means acknowledging and accepting the people in their life that were there before you were."
Beca shakes her head. "We also can't stand by and let Quinn get away with whatever she wants. That's not what being a parent is, and that's how she's going to end up getting herself into trouble."
"Do you even know for certain that Izzy is the bad influence? From what you've told me, you guys don't even know her last name, let alone what she's like."
"I know she made Quinn sneak out in the middle of the night, and when we finally got back to the house, she proceeded to scream at her sobbing little brother for giving us her address."
"Quinn made those decisions, Bec. Not Izzy."
Beca throws her head back with a groan. "Ugh, I know but –"
"Listen. I know you and Chloe were probably terrified not knowing where she was. I know that you were terrified going to a completely random place that clearly holds a lot of history for them and seeing her with a person that you know nothing about. I know that you were trying to protect Ava and Jordan. I get it. But Quinn is older, she is a different person than her siblings, and she's probably been through and seen more, than the two of them combined. You should know that better than anyone." Macy's throat starts to tighten just at the thought, as it always does, even decades later.
"And that's okay, Beca. You are the strongest person that I know. Hands down. But I can almost guarantee you, that once you get through to Quinn – and you will – you'll realize that everything that she is doing is for a reason."
Beca sighs into her hand, knowing full well that Macy is right. It's selfish of her to think that just because she was in foster care years ago, that living with her and Chloe would make any difference for Quinn. Quinn doesn't know them, and she's only been living with them for about a month; she doesn't owe Beca and Chloe anything in terms of trusting them or telling them whatever it is they want to hear. They need to earn it, just like they are earning it with Ava and Jordan. "You're right."
Macy breaks out into a small smirk that's so similar to the one that Beca often has playing across her own face. "Of course I am. I always was the smartest one in the family." She takes a breath, before growing serious again. "Just remember, Bec, that no matter how hard it gets – because it probably is going to get harder – that you know what it's like to have people give up on you. Don't make it seem like you're giving up on her."
Quinn stretches out the crick in her neck, the satisfying crack loud enough so that she can hear it even over the roar of the cafeteria. She really doesn't have anyone to blame but herself. Besides the fact that she was sitting against a tree for a solid hour, she also spent another two with Ava tucking her own little head under Quinn's chin, resulting in a not-so-comfortable sleeping position for the few hours that she managed to get some shut-eye.
She doesn't regret going to Izzy's last night. At all. Her best friend – her sister – needed her. That much was obvious. If there's anything she does regret, though, it's causing Ava to breakdown, and yelling at Jordan as intensely as she did.
Ava didn't take as long as Quinn was expecting to fall asleep last night. It only took Quinn explaining what had happened, promising that nothing was going to happen to them or Jordan, and a few laps around the bedroom with Quinn's fingers drawing patterns on her back. Ava fell asleep clinging to her like the monkey she is and didn't let go until she woke up this morning, something that didn't bother Quinn a bit.
What did bother her, was the image of Jordan's devastated face that will be burned into her mind for the rest of her life. She can count on one hand the amount of times she's lost her temper like that with Jordan. Although, after last night, the next time it happens, she'll be going on to the next hand. Not only should she have waited for herself to calm down before talking to him about how stupid it was that he gave Beca and Chloe Izzy's address, she should have waited until Beca and Chloe were out of the room. Honestly, she's not sure what pissed them off more – the fact that she snuck out, or the fact that she made Jordan sob.
But she can't even say she didn't mean it. In the heat of the moment, she was probably a lot more forceful than she should have been, but in her opinion, she has every right to be. Not talking about Izzy isn't a new rule. It's been that way since Jordan was a little kid. You don't talk about what's going on at home, and you don't talk about what's going on at Izzy's home. That's always been the rule – no matter what. Last night, for the first time in Jordan's eight years, he broke it. Hence the blow-up, hence the silent treatment this morning.
He knows it, just as much as Quinn and Ava do.
The anger that she is currently feeling towards Jordan, though, doesn't even hold a candle to the anger she's feeling towards her foster moms. She still can't wrap her mind around the pure audacity of those two women; to follow her, to basically order her to go back to a house that couldn't be more different than a place she would consider her home, and to then try and get in between her and her siblings; to try and punish her.
All she can do is laugh. So what if Beca was in foster care. At this point, she isn't even sure if she still believes that story. Clearly, if she had been, she wouldn't be acting like this, that's for sure.
"Mind if I join you?"
Being so deep in thought – and utterly exhausted – Quinn jumps at the sudden voice, her head whipping upwards to look at her unwanted company. She resists the urge to groan, but the way her eyes roll in their sockets is enough to give away her annoyance. She doesn't get a chance to respond before the redhead is sitting down in the chair next to her.
Chloe leans back in the plastic cafeteria chair, staring ahead at some of the other groups of students so that she's not just staring at Quinn, who clearly does not want her there. "I just finished grading your timed writing from a couple of weeks ago. It was good, Quinn. Really good."
Quinn crosses her arms over her chest, looking up at the blinding fluorescent lights in hopes that it will hurt her head enough so as to distract her from this conversation.
"How have the rest of your classes been today?"
Quinn immediately picks up on the softness of Chloe's voice. It's not exactly surprising; it was the same tone, maybe just a little quieter, that she used last night. In all honesty, Quinn is pretty sure that if Chloe were ever to yell, everyone in the general vicinity would be screwed.
Chloe sighs at Quinn's silence, but tries again. "You have a science test on Wednesday, right? How are you feeling about that?"
The groan that Quinn had previously been suppressing manages to escape, followed shortly by the teen spinning in her chair so she can look into a waiting pair of bright blue eyes. "What are you doing, Chloe?"
Chloe takes a deep breath, as though she had been waiting for the moment that Quinn snapped. "I am trying to have a civil conversation with you, Quinn. That's all."
"Really?" Quinn quirks an eyebrow, "That's all?"
The phone call that Chloe just had with Beca comes floating back to her, the two women having talked for a half-hour about how they need to be there for all the kids. How they have to be the bigger people in this situation, not just because they're the parents, but because they want all three of the Perry siblings to know that no matter how mad they might be, it will never change how they feel about them.
Keeping that in mind, Chloe gives her foster daughter a soft smile. "Last night was rough for everyone, kiddo. I'm just checking in."
"I'm fine." Quinn isn't going to give her the satisfaction; the happenings of last night aren't just going to disappear because she wants it to.
"Mhmm…How much sleep did you get?"
"I'm fine, Chloe."
Chloe spins her rings on her finger a few times, doing her best to remain calm – not just for Quinn's sake, but because they're also in the middle of the school cafeteria. "Are you sure? Because you still seemed pretty upset this morning."
A laugh of disbelief slips out before Quinn can stop it. "I wonder why."
Chloe slowly shakes her head. "Quinn, I understand that you are frustrated, but you need to consider where Beca and I were coming from. We came upstairs to find you gone from your bed. Ava was so far into her anxiety attack that she could barely breathe, and Jordan was being so hesitant to tell us where he thought you might be, that we had no idea where you were or if you were safe."
"I told you I was –"
"—Fine, yeah, we covered that last night. But how were we supposed to know that, love? You very easily could have just asked to go to Izzy's house. We wouldn't have said no."
Quinn bites her tongue, knowing that any negative answer to that question would just encourage Chloe to ask more. Instead, she just holds her stare, hands clenched together on her lap.
It takes everything in Chloe not to reach out and try to comfort Quinn in some way. To take her hand, to pull her into a hug. The despondent look on her face isn't helping, and Chloe knows that if she were to do that, she would only push the teen further away. "Beca and I were talking, and we were thinking that maybe you could invite Izzy over for dinner one night soon. That way we can get to know her, you can spend some time with her…"
Quinn's hazel eyes widen to the size of saucers. Talk about a horrible idea. She clears her throat, trying to buy time before she has to come up with an answer that doesn't sound like complete bullshit. "No um, no she works a lot and it just wouldn't work out."
Trying to keep the frown from showing how disappointed Chloe is in Quinn's almost immediate answer, she just offers another small smile. "Well, hopefully we can figure something out."
After talking to Chloe during her study hall while she was driving over to the elementary school, in combination with the conversation she had with Macy this morning, Beca is feeling relatively better about what had happened last night. Still exhausted, and still frustrated, but better, all things considered.
She is clipping her visitor's pass to the bottom of her suit jacket as she walks through the hallway towards the cafeteria. Her heart has picked up its pace a little, the woman feeling slightly nervous about seeing Jordan during the school day because what if, like Macy had implied, he wasn't comfortable enough yet.
But Beca just shakes her head at the notion. She knows how he's been doing the past month, and Chloe agrees; this is the right thing to do.
It doesn't take long for her to spot him, tucked in at a table at the far end of the cafeteria. His head is resting on his hand, staring down at the open lunch box in front of him, none of the food that Beca packed this morning in sight.
None of his classmates are in sight, either.
Out of all the kids, Ava is having the easiest time making friends – and that's solely because of Rosie. Jordan and Quinn on the other hand, as told through various sources, haven't made any new friends during their time living with the Mitchells. Quinn is probably being more intentional than her brother, which is why Beca's heart sinks when she sees the young boy sitting alone, his back to the rest of the cafeteria, every few seconds bringing his fist up to rub his eyes.
She ignores some of the questioning glances that she gets from some of the younger kids, and waves at some of the teachers (thankful that Rosie and Ava's class isn't at lunch right now; not that she doesn't want to see them, but she knows that her attention will be pulled elsewhere as opposed to being focused on Jordan) as she weaves through the tables. By the time she reaches Jordan's she can hear the soft sniffles coming from where he's sitting.
The small smile that had been on Beca's face since her arrival just about disappears as she lays a gentle hand on Jordan's back, the eight-year-old jolting upward as she does so. "Hey, stranger."
With the tears still dancing in his eyes, Jordan furrows his eyebrows, and wipes the residual moisture off his cheeks. His voice cracks as he asks, "Beca? What… what are you doing here?"
Beca holds up her own bag. "I figured I'd join my favorite guy for lunch. Is that okay?"
The confusion is still evident on his face, but the tears just about stop as he switches his focus to his other emotions. "W-why?"
Beca shrugs, smirking in his direction. She doesn't start unpacking her sandwich, though, just in case he wants her to leave. "I just wanted to check-in and see how you were doing. Last night was rough, and school is a whole lot harder when you have a rough night before."
Jordan snorts. "That's for sure." He sighs, picking at the crust on his jelly sandwich (which Beca has asked many times if he likes it cut-off, all of which he has responded, 'no'). "Don't you have to work, though?"
Shaking her head, Beca gently bumps Jordan's shoulder with her own. "Nope. This is the only thing that I have to worry about right now."
The disbelief in Jordan's expression is almost comical, but to Jordan's defense, whether it be because he's so tired that his brain isn't comprehending, or if it's because he just doesn't know what to say, he simply turns to his sandwich, taking the first bite since he sat down for lunch.
Beca follows suit, keeping a careful eye on her foster son as he eats his sandwich slowly and methodically. First the edges, then the inside. She would laugh if she wasn't distracted by the huge bags under his eyes, and how his hands visibly shake as he brings his sandwich up to his mouth. His body is hunched over, closed-off to the rest of the world, his legs folded up on the chair, as though he's making himself as small as possible.
It breaks Beca's heart.
After a few minutes of silence, the two of them eating contently beside each other, Beca clears her throat, and juts her chin the direction to one of the other tables. "It looks like that boy is reading a Magic Tree House book, too."
Jordan flicks his eyes up briefly but shrugs and stays silent all the same.
"Maybe we can try and finish the second one tonight? We only have about thirty more pages, right? How does that sound?"
He wipes his mouth with his napkin, his voice small when he answers. "Okay."
Beca takes another bite of her sandwich. "How were your classes today?"
"Yeah? Did you have another hard math lesson?"
Jordan nods, keeping his head tilted downward, and allowing Beca to see the slight twinge of pink that rises to his ears. "Mhmm."
"Well, we'll work on your homework again this afternoon, alright?"
Beca resists the urge to groan. She hates this. A day ago, Jordan would have been having an active conversation with her; he would have been asking her about her job, or about a song he heard on the radio. For about an hour the past couple of nights, he's even joined her downstairs in her office, sitting in the chair that Chloe typically does, and just watching the way that Beca maneuvered her way through the computer and the various dials and tools that are laid out on the desk.
Now it's like she's a complete stranger.
When she finishes her sandwich, she brushes of her hands, and turns in her seat so she can get a better look at Jordan. He's not crying anymore, but it's clear that he's deep in his thoughts as he stares blankly at the untouched bag of Goldfish sitting in front of him. "Hey, J…"
He blinks a few times before looking up at her, but even then he doesn't quite meet her eyes. "Yeah?"
"I know we talked about it last night, but you know that Chloe and I aren't upset with you, right? You did absolutely nothing wrong." Jordan averts his eyes once more. "And Quinn knows that, too – she was just incredibly angry with us, and she took it out on you."
At her last words, Jordan's eyes start to fill with tears again, his throat getting tight and his heart starting to pound against his chest. He knows that what Beca is saying, is false. Quinn was perhaps the most angry at him out of every person in that room last night, and he can't even blame her. He broke one of her number one rules. He knew how she would react, and he did it anyway. He betrayed her trust, and he betrayed Izzy's trust; in Quinn's eyes, he betrayed their family.
When the first tear collides with the tabletop, Beca moves her chair closer his, and brings her hand up to his back, rubbing gentle circles as she does so. "Sh, it's okay, buddy. Everything's going to be just fine."
"Quinn's so mad at me," he manages through a choked sob, cradling his forehead with his two hands, his elbows pressing into the table.
"I know it probably seems like that, but it was in the heat of the moment, kiddo. I doubt she meant to get that upset with you."
He lets out another loud sniffle, tear after tear rolling down his cheeks. "Then how come she wasn't talking to me this morning? Sh-she barely even luh-looked at me. She's n-never gonna for-forgive me."
"Hey," Beca makes a split second decision, bringing him into her chest, and holding his shaking body close. It's a similar position to the one they were in last night, and it kills Beca just the same. "Quinn does not hate you. She could never hate you. You guys are brother and sister – there isn't a bond that is stronger, okay? Do you think that me and Macy got along all the time?"
Jordan doesn't answer, but his grip on Beca's shirt tightens.
"Well, I can promise you one thing: we didn't. There were times where we wanted to bite each other's head off. But look – we're both still here, we're both still incredibly close, right?"
Beca isn't sure if it's a nod in response to her question, but Jordan's head does move slightly when she asks.
"I know it's probably really scary right now, and I'm sure that you are hurting, and I am so sorry for that, J, but you did the right thing telling us where Quinn was. No matter what she says. Chloe and I are so proud of you for trusting us enough to tell us."
Jordan sags into her chest, most likely a combination of defeat and the exhaustion finally wearing him down. "You're a good kid, Jordan, and an even better brother. Quinn loves you so, so much. I don't doubt it for a second."
Even if she can practically hear Jordan's own doubt screaming at her from miles away.
At Jordan's continued silence, Beca bends down and plants a kiss on the crown of his head. "What would you think about coming to work with me for the last couple of periods? You can see the studio and then maybe you can take a nap in my office."
She already cleared this plan with Chloe, both of them agreeing that if he was still distraught, it might be best just to take him home for the rest of the day. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to keep all three of the kids home, but they don't want to give anyone any more excuses to skip school.
"What?" Jordan's big hazel orbs look up at her, the tears still creating prisms for him to look through. "Really?"
"Does that sound like a solid plan?"
There's another moment's hesitation, where Jordan just continues to stare up at Beca, the older woman waiting for an answer. A second later, he's wrapping his arms back around her waist. There's definitely some hesitancy, but if the way his arms tighten around her is any indication, it's exactly what he needed.
Chloe creeps out of Jordan's bedroom later that night, tiptoeing over the threshold before slowly closing the door behind her. She practically jumps when she notices Beca doing the same with the girls' room. She whispers to her wife, "are they asleep?"
Beca nods, tilting her head in the direction of Jordan's door. "Yeah. Is he?"
Despite his adventure to Beca's office today, returning to the house in which Quinn was still refusing to talk to him, just about destroyed all of the progress he had made that afternoon. While the teen didn't really give him much of an opportunity to be in the same room as him, the few times they were, were heartbreaking for everyone involved. Quinn point blank ignored him, Jordan sniffled quietly to himself, Rosie and Ava stayed silent as they observed the obvious tension, and Beca and Chloe tried desperately to play peace-keeper, but they just got glares from Quinn in return.
By the end of the night – an early seven o'clock bedtime for every child under the age of nine – Jordan was devastated, exhausted, and easily fell asleep as soon as Chloe started tucking him in, humming a soft lullaby to hopefully lull him into a deep enough sleep, away from any nightmares or mid-night panic attacks.
Chloe keeps her voice at a whisper as they stay in the middle of the hallway. "I put the old baby monitor in there, too. Just in case."
Beca lets out a sigh of relief. Her wife really does think of everything. "Good idea."
Flicking her glance over to the one door they've been avoiding, Chloe hesitantly asks, "You ready?"
Without answering, Beca just knocks once on Quinn's bedroom door, pushing it open before Quinn even has a chance to say something.
The teen looks up at Beca and Chloe with wide eyes when she sees them coming into her room and closing the door behind them. She straightens subconsciously, pulling her knees into her chest and pushing her science textbook off to the side as they make themselves comfortable on the edge of her bed. "Hi?"
They both give her small, wordless smiles, their hands linked together on the mattress. Chloe is the first one to respond. "The three of us haven't really had a chance to talk since last night."
It takes everything in Quinn not to roll her eyes. "We talked at lunch."
"A little bit. But Beca's here now, and we want to make sure we're all on the same page."
Really not wanting to endure another round of this same discussion, Quinn gives her foster moms the most bored look she can muster. "What else is there to say?"
"Well, there was obviously some confusion last time, so we just wanted to clarify any points that may be unclear." Beca knows there's a little bit of a bite in her response, but with the exhaustion and how upset Jordan still is, she's just ready to go to bed. She doesn't have another argument in her. "We would like it if you left your door open for the next couple of nights, just so we don't wake you up when we come in and check on you."
Quinn raises an eyebrow. "You're going to be checking on me? In the middle of the night?"
Beca nods slowly and looks to Chloe for confirmation, even though they've already had this conversation. "For the next couple of nights, yep. We want to make sure you're safe, and we don't want a repeat of last night with Ava or Jordan finding out you're gone and feeling like they have to keep it to themselves. Even though it doesn't matter because that's not going to happen again, right?"
Quinn bites back a scoff but does placate the women with a slight nod of the head. "Sure."
"And that's the other thing we wanted to talk to you about, Quinn." Chloe keeps her tone as kind and adoring as usual, watching the teen carefully. "Regardless of whether or not you think what you did last night was wrong, it might be worth reconsidering how you're treating Jordan. He's still only eight and he looks up to you more than you probably realize –"
"Don't tell me how to treat my brother. You've known him for a month; I've known him for his entire life."
Beca speaks up from beside her wife. "Exactly. So, you should know what you ignoring him is doing to the poor kid. You and I both know that life is far too short to hold grudges like that. I don't care what it's about."
At that, Quinn looks as though she wants to say something else, but she stays quiet. She holds her eye contact with Beca, waiting for the the woman to say anything else about the topic. Beca doesn't, and Quinn is able to nip the rest of the conversation in the bud, "I have homework I need to finish."
Chloe lets out a sigh of defeat, but, like Beca, doesn't have it in her to compete. "Okay, love. Don't stay up too late."
Beca pulls Chloe up off the bed with her, their two hands holding on to each other tightly. "Goodnight, Quinn."
Beca and Chloe close her door over enough to give her privacy, but not closed all the way, just as they insinuated they would. They each press their ears up against the other two doors at the end of the hallway, grateful that there isn't any noise coming from either of them, before making their way downstairs.
Chloe lets out a pitiful whimper as soon as she sees the dirty dishes from dinner still piled on the counter by the sink. She turns and lays her head on Beca's shoulder. "I forgot we still have to do those."
Beca presses a kiss into her forehead, never once releasing her hand. "Come on, the sooner we finish the sooner we can go to bed."
A gasp emerges from Chloe's mouth, her eyes brightening with delight. "An eight o'clock bedtime? For us?"
"Only if we hurry." This time, she kisses the grin right off of Chloe's face, leading her over to the sink before the two of them can get to work.
With Beca washing and Chloe drying, just like they always do, the process normally doesn't take very long. But tonight, with the low hum of the music coming from the speaker, and the two women exhausted beyond what words can describe, they seem to be moving at a slower pace than normal. That, combined with the soothing effects of the warm, soapy water, is causing Beca to fall asleep standing up until Chloe breaks her out of her trance.
"This is going to resolve itself, right?"
Beca finishes running the ceramic bowl that's in her hands under the water before passing it off to Chloe. "I hope so."
Chloe's optimism still shines through in her next statement. "It's going to blow over. Ava barely seems affected by it anymore and hopefully what we said to Quinn today will make her reach out to Jordan." She sighs, "And even if she doesn't, we'll be there for the both of them. Every step of the way."
"Of course we will." Beca turns her head so that she can actually see Chloe, but she can't help but be, once again, blown away by the beauty and grace of her wife. Her dedication. Her tenacity. Coming out of the last two days hasn't been easy, but she has been Beca's rock for the entirety of it. "I love you, you know that?"
"I love you, too, Bec." Chloe shrugs once more, "and it's because of that, that I know we're going to get through this little rough patch."
14 Years Ago
With the amount of activity going on in Chloe's backyard right now, with the music and the people and the chatting, one would think that Beca was paying attention to something other than her thoughts. She could be talking to the other Bellas, the girls that she has been lucky enough to call her best friends for the last three and a half years. She could be talking to Macy and Benji about the cake they're eating with the Barden University logo on the frosting. She could be dancing with Chloe, Stacie, and Aubrey, on the makeshift dance floor in the middle of the lawn. She could even be striking up a conversation with Lisa and some of the Bellas' other moms, or Kevin who's at the grill. But instead, she's standing off to the side by the snack table, trying to look as normal as possible, rather than the nervous wreck that she's feeling on the inside.
Then again, in Beca's completely unbiased opinion, she has every reason to be standing alone, hyping herself up so that she can do what she's been planning on doing for the last four years.
Beca has known she's wanted to marry Chloe since she stuck by her and Macy through everything that happened with Jack. The way she gave them her undying support; no hesitation, no questioning – Chloe was by their side through it all. She was by Beca's side through it all.
The last four years have been nothing short of amazing. The adventures they've gone on, the memories they've made together. The way she so seamlessly became a part of her and Macy's life. Now, years later, she wouldn't have it any other way.
Beca doesn't want to imagine her life without her.
Which is why the small velvet box is burning a hole through the pocket of the jumpsuit she wore to Chloe and the Bellas' college graduation. It's not that she doesn't want to do it, obviously, it's that she wants to make sure it's perfect. It's that she wants the ring to be on Chloe's finger more than anything, it's just willing herself to make that step. She just needs to get over her unnecessary nerves and ask the girl of her dreams to spend the rest of her life with her.
Beca takes a deep breath, reaching up to push a loose curl behind her ear, trying to gather her thoughts one more time before she goes to whisk Chloe away from the other girls. This is probably one of the easiest things she's ever asked her. She's asked her to live with her. She's basically asked her to raise her little sister with her. Marriage is bound to happen at some point, right?
And it's not even like they haven't talked about it before. They've had the 'forever' talk time and time again. They've endured countless teasing from both Macy, the Bellas, and Chloe's family, about when Beca was finally going to pop the question. She hasn't been procrastinating; she's just been waiting for the right time. Waiting for Chloe to accomplish her dream of becoming a teacher. Waiting for her to have an authentic college experience apart from living with her girlfriend and her teenage little sister. Beca already impacted so much of Chloe's college years – and though Chloe has never made her feel like she was a burden, she wanted her girlfriend to get those experiences that she spent her entire life waiting for.
But hey, no one said anything about waiting any longer than a few hours after she got her diploma. Beca can't wait another minute. She doesn't want to wait another minute.
She can do it.
Just as she takes a step away from the comfort of the table, the DJ that the Beales hired for the party switches the track to a slower song. Beca only wishes that she could a) acknowledge her pure luck and b) identify the song, because her heart is pounding so loudly in her ears and she has much more important things occupying her mind.
She lays her hand on Chloe's shoulder as soon as she gets to the redhead, her girlfriend slightly out of breath from dancing with Aubrey and Stacie. She smiles at the couple who are scheduled to fly to London next week for a month long adventure in Europe before they're set to begin their respective graduate programs in the fall. Chloe was hired to teach summer school at a school district about forty-five minutes away from their apartment, and, along with it, a position to teach English at their elementary school in the fall. It was an opportunity that she couldn't pass up, as much as she would have loved to travel through Europe with her best friends.
She would also have to leave Beca and Macy, which most certainly played a huge factor as well.
"Mind if I cut in?"
Chloe gives her the same giddy grin that she always does, as Aubrey and Stacie say of course, and head off to get something to drink. With her heart racing and palms sweaty, Beca easily pulls Chloe close, settling her arms around Chloe's waist, while she wraps her own arms around Beca's neck. "Hi."
Beca chuckles, not even bothering to pretend that she isn't completely enamored by Chloe's baby blues twinkling in the glow of the string lights that she spent forty-five minutes helping Kevin and Chloe set up yesterday afternoon. "Hi. Are you having a good time?"
"The best. I don't think I want it to end."
Beca nods, spinning them slowly in a circle. "It's cool having everyone here. All of the Bellas and their families. Most of the time it's just us, and Stacie and Aubrey's families."
"I saw you get caught talking to Flo's grandmother a little while ago."
Letting out a small snort, the brunette just shakes her head. "She wasn't that bad. But thanks for seeing that I may need saving and ignoring me."
A light laugh flits past Chloe's lips, throwing her head backward as she does so. "Sorry, babe."
"I guess I'll forgive you." Chloe rolls her eyes with a chuckle, just as the pressure in Beca's chest starts to build. It's now or never. "Think you can spare a few minutes away from the party?"
There's a slight crinkle in Chloe's eyebrows as she shoots Beca a questioning glance. "Sure. Is everything okay?"
Don't give it away. Don't give it away. "Yeah, everything's fine. I just feel like I haven't seen you all day."
Her concern is evident as Chloe nods. "Okay. Come on, we can head inside."
Despite Beca knowing exactly where she wants to go, she allows Chloe to lead her inside of the Beale house. If Beca was even mildly paying attention to anything going on around her instead of focusing on the redhead in front of her, she would have seen Macy grinning in her direction from where she's sitting with Benji.
Chloe is about to bring her into the living room to sit on the couch, but Beca tugs her in the opposite direction. "Let's go upstairs."
Again, her eyebrows crinkle together, her head tilting slightly to the side. "What?"
"Upstairs. Come on, I feel like I still can't hear you with the music outside."
She doesn't give Chloe much room to argue, though she does quip from behind her, "Well, maybe you shouldn't have your headphones so loud when you're working, then."
Beca holds her hand tightly as she brings her up the stairs. "Ha-ha so funny."
They climb the stairs slowly, the sound of Chloe's sandals slapping against the hardwood echoing through the empty house. "Bec, seriously, where are we going?"
"Just to sit."
When Beca makes it to the second floor, instead of turning down the hallway towards Chloe bedroom, she turns the opposite way, bringing her over to the window seat behind the stairs, the cushion faded from years of sunlight streaming in through the glass.
Beca sits down with a sigh, Chloe following suit shortly after. "That's better."
Chloe laughs once more. "Yeah? This seat suit your needs, Goldilocks?"
Beca wipes her sweaty palm on her thigh and leans back against the window. Their thighs are pressed up against each other, their hands clasped together, and suddenly, although her nerves are most certainly still coursing through her body, Beca is the most relaxed she's been all night, and it all has to do with the person sitting next to her.
She turns her head so she can face Chloe, a small smile appearing on her lips. "You know, the first time that we sat here together, I was terrified."
Chloe pauses, not quite expecting the way that Beca is very clearly attempting to bring this conversation. Over the years, she's learned that sometimes Beca just needs to get something off of her chest. Whether it be from her time in foster care, with something that happened with Macy, or something else entirely, sometimes it just comes out before Beca can stop it. Chloe's gotten very good at just listening and waiting for her girlfriend to get her bearings – and the strength – so that she can continue. Her patience is comparable to no other, and she's constantly amazed – and grateful – for how much trust Beca places in her.
"That group project was so ill timed; Macy called me because she didn't know when, or if, I was going to go back and pick her up from Fig's. I don't know if I ever told you that."
Chloe gently shakes her head. "No, you didn't."
"Yeah. When I realized that you had heard me talking to her… I really didn't know what to do. And then when I found out that you saw Macy having that panic attack in the hallway – which she never told me about, by the way – I was even more terrified." Beca runs her thumb over the back of Chloe's hand, never breaking eye contact. "I had never been good at letting people know about her – especially after everything that happened with Tyler – and there you were, a complete stranger, who had already seen her in one of her most vulnerable states."
Chloe nudges her with her shoulder. "Well, it's a good thing that you didn't completely block me out then, huh?"
Beca gives her a toothy grin, answering her question without any words, but continuing, nonetheless. "If you had told me that day that I'd fall completely head over heels for you, and that you'd become one of the most important people in my life – in Macy's life – I'm not sure I would have believed you."
Beca takes a deep breath, subconsciously squeezing Chloe's hand tighter. "Now I have no idea what I would do without you, Chlo. I hope you know that I wouldn't have been able to get through these last couple of years without you. I wouldn't be working at the studio; I probably wouldn't have custody of Macy. I know I wouldn't be anywhere near as happy as am I now. You… you changed my life, Chloe."
Tears swell in Chloe's baby blues. "Bec…"
Fighting back the tightness in her own throat, Beca continues, her voice thick with emotion. "You're my best friend, Chloe, and the love of my life. You're the most amazing person that I have ever met, and I quite literally can't imagine myself without you by my side." Clearing her throat, Beca slowly moves from beside Chloe and makes the journey down to one knee as Chloe's jaw drops open and the tears start to roll down her cheeks. The death grip that Chloe has on her hand prohibits Beca from using it, but she manages to pull the small box from her pocket, and pops it open with her thumb. The solitaire diamond catches the light almost immediately. "These four years that we've been together have been the best years of my life and have only showed me how many more years I want to spend with you. I want to have kids with you, I want to get a house and a dog and watch you become the best teacher this city has ever seen. I want to grow old with you, Chloe. More than anything."
Beca lets out a teary chuckle, "So, Chloe, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? Will you marry me?"
Finally releasing Beca's hand, Chloe reaches up to quickly the tears off of her face, nodding as she lunges forward to capture Beca's lips with her own.
Beca moves her arms out from in front of her, holding Chloe close instead. When they finally break free from the passion-filled kiss, Beca just lets out a breathy laugh. "Is that a yes?"
Chloe nods once more, bringing her thumb up to brush some of the tears off of Beca's own cheek, grinning like there is no tomorrow. "Of course it's a yes."
Only a few more angst-heavy chapters and then we get a bit of a reprieve. Thank you all so much for your continued support of this story - I am so grateful for each and every one of you. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and I look forward to hearing what you thought! See you on Wednesday :)