The pickup truck stops at a rest stop, many miles away from Seattle. They figured they can go to Seattle where the brunette can grab a couple stuff and move down to the bustling state of California, or they can stay at Seattle, whichever works best. The brunette knows she cannot go back to Arcadia Bay, ever, not even if it rebuilds itself to the city it once was. No one could’ve survived that storm, except for maybe Jefferson if that fucker stayed in the bunker. Or maybe this is the timeline where he dies. She forgot long ago.
“Max—“ the blue haired friend appears with a large cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. “I got ya something.”
“I’m not really hungry, Chlo,” Max mumbles.
“At least drink the coffee,” Chloe suggests. “It’s gonna be a long ride to Seattle so you gotta put something in your stomach.”
Max begrudgingly takes both items, but she drinks the coffee while having the sandwich in her lap. “Do you think anyone survived that storm?” She asks in wonder while Chloe starts the car.
A couple blinks. “I don’t know, but I don’t give a shit. I never liked anyone from that town other than you and Rachel. I lost Rachel, so you’re the only person I got.”
Max frowns. That didn’t sound as assuring as she once thought. “I...what about your family?”
Chloe snorts loudly. “You know good and well I haven’t given a fuck about anyone from my family since my dad died. My stupid ass mother decided to marry a prick and after the funeral, no one contacted me, including you...but I forgave you so…”
Max grimaces, but decides against talking about this situation further. It seemed kind of weird that Chloe would hang on to her childhood pain for over five years, but maybe that’s because Max has never lost a parent. She bets if she let Chloe die, it would take a while for her to get back to the swing of things, maybe taking a leave of absence from school until she no longer feels like crying over losing her friend.
Or maybe there is another timeline, where Chloe gets saved and suffers minimal damage from the gunshot...and maybe Max would finish school while Chloe gets to mentally and emotionally heal one last time before they embark on their lives together, like they’re doing now.
But, this isn’t the hospital ending. There has to be a time for Chloe to accept her trauma, and with enough support and therapy, it can happen. Max certainly has to let go of her own trauma as well from causing thousands of deaths for one person she hasn’t talked to for five years.
Chloe pulls away from the parking spot and keeps driving towards Seattle.
Once they get on the highway, a large tractor-trailer honks their horn so loudly it catches both of them off guard. Holy shit.
The aforementioned sandwich falls all over the floor. “What the actual fuck is wrong with you?” Chloe bellows out of her window as the tractor-trailer keeps on driving without another word. “Fuckwad.”
“Watch it, Chloe—“
“No, that dick decided to swerve around the same time I was going to merge onto the fucking road! What kind of asshole does that unless they want to kill someone?”
Max sighs and decides not to argue anymore. It would be useless.
Hurricane Marie makes landfall as quickly as possible, and sadly Max doesn’t have Chloe with her.
Max didn’t think they would stop at California, but it took them a while to settle in the lost city of angels. Chloe quickly finds a job while Max spends half of her time in school. She leisurely picks up her camera when she feels the inspiration but she refuses to look at the photos, thinking her powers might activate once again.
She doesn’t need that happening again.
“It’s not as bad, honestly,” Max lies as she looks out the window. No, it’s terrible — the sky is dark at four in the evening, and the trees surrounding the neighborhood are either losing dead branches or are uprooted, ready to fall on some unsuspecting vehicle.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure, mom,” she groans into the phone. “Hold on, mom. I think I see Chloe. Let me go help her.” Max hangs up the phone before her mother can protest. She runs downstairs and opens the door for Chloe. The blue haired punker looks tired as hell but is mustering enough strength to close the door to her car.
Except, a tree uproots entirely and is falling towards Chloe and her vehicle. “Chloe, watch out!” Max shouts.
Chloe widens her eyes and runs towards the apartment building as the tree completely crushes the junk car. “Fuck!” Chloe shouts angrily as she stares at her smashed pickup truck. “My car!”
Max groans frustratingly. It was time to get rid of that vehicle already so she felt less heartbroken over the car. “Chloe! Get in here!”
Chloe growls and enters the apartment building. Max doesn’t give a shit how wet Chloe is when she hugs and kisses Chloe. “Alright! I’m alive, you hippie.”
“That tree was about to—“
“I know. Thanks for saving me out there,” Chloe states, her Cheshire smile soothing Max in more ways than one.
But Max just wipes that smile off Chloe’s face as she kisses Chloe again.
“Guess who’s never going to therapy again,” Chloe announces as soon as she walks inside the apartment.
Max furrows her eyebrows in curiosity, but also in annoyance. This was Chloe’s fourth time trying therapy and so far, Chloe has stopped showing up for all of them. “What happened this time?”
“Asshole was trying to nitpick my life, trying so hard to say that I shouldn’t hold my dad’s death over my mom. It is kind of her fault that he died,” Chloe explains. “Certainly not better than that last Freudian dickhead telling me that I have unresolved sexual feelings for my dad.”
“I...you blame Joyce for your dad dying?”
“Well, yeah. Why didn’t she learn how to drive? Or better yet, why did she buy so much groceries? Or why she didn’t take the bus?”
Max knows that there are a few things between her and Chloe that they didn’t see eye to eye about and this, apparently, is one of them. Max could never, ever, blame anyone for a death like that unless they outright murdered them. She couldn’t even blame Victoria for Kate’s close call. “That’s not right, Chlo—“
“I don’t care.”
“This is your fourth therapist in the past year, Chloe. When you said you wanted to better yourself, that means facing your trauma head on and taking responsibility for your actions, not getting angry when therapists call you petulant for blaming your mom for a noodle incident that killed your dad, and then moving the fuck on from said death. I’ll agree that David is a piece of shit, but if it were someone else—“
“Drop it, Maxine. I don’t wanna fucking talk about this anymore.”
“But…” Max tries to say, but then gives up. There’s no point in trying to convince Chloe anymore, she’s an adult and she can make her own decisions...but she wanted the best for Chloe. There’s a lot of pain that she holds, and if therapy won’t help, then she needs something. Smoking and drinking is not it.
Max feels a trembling, which breaks her out of her reverie. It doesn’t make her worry but then it gets worse. Max suddenly hugs onto Chloe but then the chandelier is falling.
Max quickly pulls Chloe out of the way before the chandelier breaks all over the floor. The earthquake lasts for a while, which is longer than the last one, and it almost kills Chloe. Again.
She might be angry at Chloe, but she isn’t going to let something like a chandelier kill her.
Max is fixing her ugly Christmas garb when the doorbell rings. She excitedly goes towards the door while Chloe yells out “Max! Door!” and she opens it without another complaint. “Katie!”
“Max!” Kate Marsh, one of the very few survivors of the Arcadia Bay Storm, greets back and hugs Max very closely. Max stays like that for a few seconds until she lets go of Kate. She looks so much happier than three years ago, when she was being bullied and on the brink of suicide. She’s so glad Kate survived her demons...and that storm. “I’m so happy to see you!”
“I’m happy to see you,” Max repeats back, then starts to close the door behind her. However, a large, dark hand stops her from fully closing it. “Ah, shit.”
“What the fuck, Maxine?” Mikey North practically growls and throws the door open with his strength. “You steady tryna break my hand every time we come here!”
“Max, never Maxine,” Steph says before Max has the chance to say it. “Don’t worry, Max. I got your back.”
“Thanks, Steph,” Max smiles. “Also, hello, Michael.”
“Mikey,” Mikey drawls. “Never Michael.”
“Really.” Max rolls her eyes and looks back at Kate. “I apologize, honestly. They’re idiots.”
Both Steph and Mikey were out of Arcadia Bay by the time the storm hit. Steph was staying in Colorado, while Mikey and his brother Drew were in Seattle when the older brother was attending college. She only knows of their existence thanks to Facebook...and Chloe.
“It’s gonna be a full house, huh,” Kate jokes.
“Sure is,” Drew states excitedly, throwing an arm around both Kate and Max. “Where’s the smurf colored bitch of the hour?”
“Shut up,” Chloe growls out as she walks out of the room. “Merry Christmas you hoes.”
That’s when Chloe trips over a cord. While she catches her footing, the tree starts to spike. Max notices it and pulls Chloe out of the way at the same time the lights explode, and now the tree is in flames. Everyone is looking frantic, except for Drew who rolls his eyes, pulls out the fire extinguisher from the hallway, and sprays the tree down with a thick foam before the flames also lick the presents along with the tree. “I don’t get paid enough to be off duty,” Drew mutters.
It’s Chloe’s twenty third birthday.
As a treat, Max decides to take Chloe out on a date. Since it’s hot all year round in Los Angeles, Max decides the beach would be great.
“Are you ready yet?” Max shouts as she knocks on the door to the bathroom.
“Ready!” Chloe announces and steps out of the bathroom. When they went bathing suit shopping last week, Max agreed on wearing a bandeau two-piece while Chloe...didn’t reveal what she was wearing. Now, Chloe is before her with a bikini that looks more like floss. “Since I can’t be in my birthday suit, I figured this was the next best thing!”
Max blinks a couple times, trying not to forgo the beach birthday date and just eat Chloe out in the bathroom. “Why do you do this to me?”
“What am I doing?” Chloe inquires in the fakest innocent voice Max has ever heard. “You don’t like it?”
“I like it too much,” Max mutters. That’s when she notices the design on it: cannabis leaves.
Well, at least she didn’t lose her personality. “Let’s just go.”
Max feels like she’s going to get a sunburn in the next minute, despite putting on the strongest sunscreen after the last time they were on a beach.
Chloe complains about the heat and decides to cool down by going in the water. On Max’s insistence (and jealousy after noticing a lot of guys...and some girls, staring at her girlfriend), Chloe is wearing an oversized t-shirt that covers almost everything...the almost is that it barely covers Chloe’s ass.
Max can deal with that. Barely.
She closes her eyes for two seconds until she hears screaming. Max opens her eyes to see Chloe on the brink of drowning. “Max!” She tries to shout.
Max is on the move but then a lifeguard beats her to the punch. The lifeguard picks Chloe up bridal style and allows Chloe to practically barf up water all over him. Max almost pushes him away and stares at Chloe with relief...and uncertainty.
Of course she’s happy that her girlfriend is alive...but to what length?
“You may kiss the bride,” Kate Marsh announces, staring at both Max and Chloe with happiness and anticipation.
Max watches as Chloe lifts the veil. She smiles as Chloe grabs her face and kisses her deeply, then dips her mid-kiss.
Max ignores the coos and cheers coming from her friends now that she’s married to the love of her life. Once her childhood friend, who became her partner in time, and next her girlfriend...and just after Chloe’s birthday (and umpteenth stroke of death), her fiancèe.
Max doesn’t have a big wedding. Well, she couldn’t. She only knows of Kate surviving the storm. Steph, Drew and Mikey of course show up, as well as Max’s parents. And that’s it, really.
Max doesn’t know who survived the storm and she hasn’t been back to Arcadia Bay to check who did survive. Instead, she just invites her three friends and Kate is already a marriage officiant so of course she agreed to ordain (and be a legal/religious witness to) Max and Chloe’s wedding.
Chloe requested to drive off in a motorcycle instead of tying cans to her car and driving off, so Chloe gets on while Max holds onto her. They drive off to where the small reception is supposed to be, but Chloe violently hits the brakes.
Max is about to ask when two trucks crash into each other. Max jumps off the motorcycle while Chloe also steps out. They back away for a few feet, and make a run for it.
How many times does Chloe have to get into some violent motor collision?
It’s the opening of a new photography museum exhibit in Seattle.
Max is lucky enough to get a photo submitted so that means Max and her wife Chloe are on their way to her hometown by plane. Chloe might have gotten a new car and Max might have gotten her license, but they aren’t driving...especially after the close call on their wedding day.
Max likes planes. Their way to Seattle is smooth sailing so it reinstates her interest in planes. They are staying at a hotel nearby the museum exhibit and so are the picked nominees as well. Max goes to a small soirée and meets all of them as quickly as possible, drinking champagne and displaying her wife and her knowledge of photography...not even getting flashbacks when a newbie photographer Elijah Marcus mentions Mark Jefferson.
Max almost forgot about that twisted fucker. She wonders if he survived the storm…
No, no time to think of that.
However Max is thinking about it all night. Luckily, Chloe is up too — she spends half the night reading a lesbian graphic novel.
The photography exhibit is everything Max hopes for. However she stares at a photo for too long and it almost makes her lose it until she hears someone yelling.
“Caulfield!” Max snaps her head to the side to see a familiar figure standing over her. “Your nose is bleeding.”
“Victoria, you survived the storm…”
“Of course I did. I was under the bunker with our sociopathic ass teacher,” Victoria growls, handing Max a tissue. “Wipe that shit up already. Blood makes me fucking queasy.”
After sneering at Victoria’s unchanged attitude, Max touches under her nose and checks the damage. It’s been a while since she’s received one of those.
She hated nosebleeds.
When Max is going back to California, the trip is not as safe. In fact, they almost crash. Chloe could have gotten killed if Max didn’t save her, one last time, by goading her to eat those sugar free gummy bears and then having a maltitol-related bathroom run.
That was more indirect than the other close calls.
That’s when Max realizes she could no longer stall the inevitable.
“I’m sorry, Max,” the nurse says, covering the patient’s frozen face under a sheet.
Max exhales deeply and wipes her tears. It’s been months since they announced a total lockdown of California, however it doesn’t do much to help a lot of citizens. Most citizens who were infected were closer to death than Max has ever been when she was under the bunker. Those who were dying were already dead, and that’s the case for Chloe Price.
The start of the year wasn’t a good one. Max knew Chloe was getting sick but she couldn’t do anything to help her dying wife. She figured it was probably her time to die after all those times she had to save Chloe from imminent doom. However, COVID-19 made it a lot worse.
It was a fever. Then chills. Then shortness of breath and a cough that reminded Max of the time Kristen got a bad case of the whooping cough. Then the pneumonia.
The doctor says she doesn’t have much time and Max wants to go back, hopefully to tell a past Chloe not to smoke so much cigarettes anymore, hoping that it would make her well again.
Chloe died just mere minutes, due to her complications. Doctors were issued a DNR for coronavirus patients, and Max wasn’t going to make sure that Chloe lives in her own misery again so even if she couldn’t dispute the DNR process, she just let Chloe die.
She’s reminded of when she went to stop William from getting hit by a car, when she had to kill Chloe because things were not getting any better with her own injury. She had to comply with the law of course, but even so, she still wouldn’t let the doctors bring her back.
Max leaves the room and brings her mask up, walking through a bevy of nurses and doctors, most looking immensely tired and most doing what they can’t. She appreciated each and every one of them, but she wasn’t going to thank them. Max figures they get enough of that.
There’s no need to stay any longer.
She knows what to do.
Max goes inside of the apartment and retrieves an old journal from under the bed. She destroyed the butterfly picture but she had a backup. She just hopes it works.
The picture of a blue butterfly prints out instantly from a Polaroid camera. Max grabs the picture as quickly as possible then hides behind the little alcove between the fire drill and the last stall.
Max barely flinches when she hears the gunshot.
Everything turns to white.
Max suddenly finds herself in a different reality, but she couldn’t shake the sudden heaviness in her heart.
She had to witness her best friend die again — and to what cost?
The president is still an orange crayon and that same orange crayon is still killing his citizens with a foreign viral disease. Music still sucks. Movies still suck. Marvel is still trash. Everything sucks!
Especially that show, Everything Sucks!.
What sucks most of all is that Max realizes that she never recovered after Chloe died from the looks of it. She still has a box full of Chloe-mementos in front of her. She still has some other shit lying around. Her room is a mess. She might be alone here. When she checks her phone, her only contact is Kate.
None of Chloe’s out of town friends that she made over ten years ago.
She doesn’t have any social media accounts. In the last timeline, Max had a Facebook but now she doesn’t.
It’s almost as if Max lives off the grid.
However she couldn’t go back. If she went back, things will just be destroyed again. Chloe will still die (unless Max tries to save her). There will still be nightmares, voices, and even anxiety over everything that happened in the other timeline.
Max slips into the floor and goes into a fetal position as she cries. She saves the city, but to what cost?