Family Maintenance

Author's Note

This chapter is more author's note than chapter, and I do apologize. Work has been hell recently (I'm looking at that one client who's been making everything hell) and I'm going to be going on vacation as a little last getaway before uni starts this upcoming week, so I'm hoping to get more writing done then.
Even still, I wanted to update and give you all a little something, so here it is. This was originally going to be a longer chapter, but I thought I'd just slice it and give it to you guys now and then save the longer chapter (And it's long) once it's better edited. Please enjoy!

Leave the reviews please, they feed my soul!


Este was crying.

The red-cheeks and ear-piercing shrieks kind of crying.

Mal turned her attention back to the irritated elderly lady standing furiously at their door, her arms crossed over her chest. "I am so sorry, ma'am… Um, she's just a bit grumpy because we just moved and she's not used to… The new surroundings. She'll quiet down soon." Mal repeated and the lady harrumphed.

"She'd better!" she huffed before turning and leaving, her heels clacking against the floor of the hallway.

Mal sighed as she closed the door and waved her hand, her appearance returning to her normal purple hair and green eyes. Fairy Godmother had taught her that trick, just an extra precaution to make sure that nobody would realize she was the daughter of Maleficent.

It bothered her, but she couldn't do anything about it. If her safety ensured Este's safety, then she would go all out.

"Baby, why are you crying?" Mal asked, exasperated as she plopped down on the floor of their living room next to the toddler. She was sprawled out across the wood, sniffling. The television played a slow commercial in the back and her toys littered the carpet.

The apartment was nice. Small, but it had everything they needed. It was only ten minutes away from Auradon Prep, so the transport was easy. They had settled into a routine, online classes during the day while juggling Este during her breaks and then working in the afternoons, Este being handed off to one of their friends to get out of the house.

Mal hated that she couldn't spend more time with Este, and to be dreadfully honest, she hated her new job, having to deal with bossy, demanding clients who constantly criticized her anonymous facade was not something she wanted to do on a daily basis, but it was what had to be done.

She had to shield her daughter from the hurt the world could cause her.

Specifically from Ben.

But that was a whole other conversation.

"Want Ben." Este suddenly murmured, so quietly that Mal had to tilt her head to hear her.

"What did you say, baby girl?"

"I wan' to see Ben."

"You… Want to see Ben?"

Este nodded, wiping her nose with her hand. "Mhm."

Before Mal could answer, the door swung open, revealing a smiling Evie carrying a few grocery bags. She immediately stopped smiling upon seeing the mother-daughter duo sitting on the floor, the little one with dried tears clinging to her cheeks.

"Este? You okay, little E?" Evie asked as Este hugged her legs. The blue-haired girl raised her eyes towards Mal, who sucked in a breath before letting it out slowly.

"Este, baby, can you go get your bag so you can go with Auntie Veevee?" Mal asked and Este paused.

"Can I see Ben?" she asked in return.

Evie tried not to laugh. Mal shot her a glare, biting her lower lip. "We'll see. Go get your backpack, baby."

Este ran off to the bedroom, her feet banging against the floor and Mal groaned. "Our downstairs neighbor hates us and we've only been here a week."

Evie gave a small chuckle. "Well, didn't Jay give the neighbors a week tops before they started complaining? Este is a bit of a handful, and she gets that," she pointed a finger accusingly at Mal. "From you."

Mal bristled. "No, she doesn't."

"Yes she does, miss I refuse to acknowledge my feelings for Ben and will haul my daughter and I to a different place just so I don't have to see him and deal with my feelings," Evie said casually as she placed the bags onto the countertop. "It's a handful to even say it."

"I do not have feelings for him."

"Mhm, right," Evie hummed while she took the groceries out of the bags. "I think you should at least give him a call to let him know you two are alright instead of just giving him the cold shoulder. I think he's going crazy not knowing."

"He's been asking about us?"

"Yes. Well, he asks Akiho and Emir to ask us and then they report back to him," Evie amended. "But it still counts!"

Mal wasn't sure how to process this newfound information. It felt like someone had released a cage of butterflies in her stomach.

"Mal?" Evie said gently.

"Hm?"

"You should call him."

At that moment, Este returned, a dark blue backpack hanging off of her shoulders awkwardly. Her eyes were still puffy from crying, but she had a smile painted on her face as she tugged on Mal's hand.

"Did Auntie Veevee say yeah? Can I go see Ben, please, mama?"

Mal didn't even know it was her speaking when she opened her mouth. "Yeah, baby. You can go see him."

And I will be calling him.

She wasn't sure if this was a good idea or not.

It probably wasn't.

As soon as she had escorted Evie and Este out the door, her hand slid into her pocket and pulled out her phone, her thumb hovering over Ben's contact.

She pressed it, and he picked it up almost immediately.

"Mal?" he asked, a mixture of awe and worry in his voice.

Mal's heart thudded.

Yes, it definitely wasn't a good idea.