Max sighed as she watched Rachel and Chloe dance around the kitchen. It was…hard to watch them when all she wanted to do was join them. After finding out she could control time, Max had done everything in her power to prevent Chloe from dying. She had even rewound time enough to save Rachel. Though it came at a cost. Max had gotten shot in Chloe’s place, deeming it unnecessary to rewind time. Luckily, it hadn’t been that bad. The bullet had hit her shoulder, missing anything important. She had to spend weeks in the hospital then she had to spend time recovering from surgery. It had taken her a little over two months to fully recover. Shortly after fully recovering, she had rekindled her friendship with Chloe and met Rachel. It took a while to gain Chloe’s trust again, but Rachel was easy. She didn’t judge as much as Chloe and Max found herself longing to be in a relationship with her as well. Though Max could tell that she still resented her for what she had done to the blue-haired teen. Not that she could blame her.
Now, after three months, they spent much of their time together, but Max felt like an outcast. Like she didn’t belong with them. Her heart still hurt from remembering the time she spent with Chloe before she had rewound time. The love that was between them. Now there was no love. At least not towards her. She could see how much Chloe and Rachel loved each other. She wanted to be a part of that, but she wouldn’t ruin their relationship. Not a chance.
“Hey! Mad Max! Tell Rachel I’m a pro in the kitchen!” Chloe yelled. Max smiled and rested her chin on her palm.
“I don’t know, you’ve burned the food before,” Max stated. Chloe turned to stick her tongue out at her. “Real mature Chloe.”
Rachel came behind her and gently smacked her in the back of the head. “Stop messing with Max and help me cook.”
“Yeah, yeah. I hold your horses,” Chloe grumbled. She moved the pan and Rachel poured the pancake batter. The two of them quietly spoke to one another while Max silently watched. She yearned to join them, but that wasn’t her place. Her place wasn’t beside them. It was on the seat away from them. She would not take Chloe or Rachel’s happiness away. “Earth to Max? Where’s your head at hippie?”
Max shook her head and looked up, seeing the concern on Chloe and Rachel’s faces. “Nothing. I think I’m going to head back to school.”
“Ahh, you always leave. Why can’t you just stay for one meal? We make enough for the three of us,” Chloe asked.
“I can’t. I’ve got…things to do.”
“Yeah? Like hang out with your Blackwell friends?”
“I get it. You like them more than Rachel and I.”
Max released a frustrated sigh. Chloe still didn’t forgive her for leaving and then returning for Blackwell Academy. It was her fault for not keeping in touch. She should’ve. But she couldn’t change the past that much. Not without something going wrong in return. Max got to her feet, seeing the glare that Rachel sent at Chloe.
“I’m going to head out,” Max mumbled. She grabbed her bag before heading to the door. Her hand touched the doorknob when she felt a grip on her shoulder. She jumped and turned to press her back flush against the door. Rachel had her hands out in front of her in a sign of peace.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” Rachel apologized. Max held her hand to her chest, pressing against it to calm her racing heart.
“It’s alright,” Max spoke. Rachel smiled and put her hands down. Chloe came running around the corner with Max’s camera in her hands. Oh. She must’ve forgotten it.
“Hey nerd, you forgot your camera,” Chloe smiled. Max knew that Chloe was trying to be funny, but she didn’t find it funny right now. She frowned and Chloe sheepishly scratched the back of her head. “Okay, sorry that wasn’t okay. I just know how much your camera means to you. And I’m sorry for saying what I did in the kitchen. I just…why don’t you like hanging out with us more?”
“I just…you wouldn’t understand,” Max answered. Chloe shook her head and stepped forward, gently taking Max’s hands in her own. When Max looked up, she was hit with the image of Chloe before she had changed their current timeline. Chloe with windswept hair, standing in the pouring rain. Begging her to go back and let her die.
“I don’t understand, because you won’t tell me,” Chloe softly spoke. Max shook her head and tried to pull her hands away, but the blue-haired teen tightened her grip. “Max, please talk to me. We used to do that all the time. Why is it that you can’t tell me what is bothering you?”
“I can’t tell you Chloe.”
“Did I do something wrong? Is that why you can’t tell me?”
“No! No, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Then why can’t you tell me why you won’t stay with us?”
“Because isn’t an answer Max.”
Max felt anger fill her chest. How dare Chloe say that? How dare she think that it wasn’t a big deal or that she could just make her talk? “You want to know? You really want to know?!”
“I do! Just talk to me!”
“I watched you die! Over, and over again! But you’d never know because no one understands what I had to go through to save you! You’d never know that I had to give you up so that you could be happy like you deserved! Happy with Rachel. Even if it kills me every second I see you two happy, because for whatever twisted reason, I’m falling for both of you!” Max yelled. She pulled her hands away from Chloe who stared at her with wide eyes, much like Rachel who stood beside her.
“Max—” Chloe started. Max shook her head and dug into her bag before shoving her journal against the blue-haired teen’s chest.
“I’m done,” Max seethed. She ignored Chloe and Rachel’s calls to her as she stormed out of the house. Tears blurred her vision as she went, and she was thankful that the bus happened to be pulling up to the bus stop. She ran to the bus, hearing Rachel and Chloe calling her name. Ignoring the concerned looks of the passengers, Max stumbled to the back row where no one would see her crying. She was done fighting. She was done trying to hide her emotions. All she wanted to do was sleep and forget about everything.
Two Days Later
Max groaned at the sound of the pounding on her dorm room door. She hadn’t truly left her dorm in several days, leaving only to go to the bathroom. She would leave when no one was around or extremely early in the morning. Looking at the clock, she saw that it was 3:00 p.m. She didn’t want to see anyone. Kate had routinely checked on her, but she had even ignored her sweet friend. She couldn’t deal with the look of pity she would get.
“Max? Can you please answer the door?” Chloe’s voice spoke. Right. Rachel had a room in the dorms so they would be here too. She sighed and buried deeper under the covers, ignoring her friend. “I know you’re in there. Kate says you haven’t been going to class.”
“Max? We’re worried about you,” Rachel said next. Great. They were both here. She was definitely not getting up now. She heard Rachel sigh before she heard them walking away. Hopefully they weren’t going to be standing near the door. She really needed to go to the bathroom. Max quietly got up from her bed and cracked open her door to peak out into the hallway. No one was in sight, and she knew that Rachel’s door was past the bathrooms. An easy path so long as she stayed quiet. Max silently closed the door behind her and tiptoed towards the bathroom. There was no one in sight and she was thankful for that. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone.
Opening the door, Max sighed at how empty the bathroom was. She quickly went to the bathroom to relieve herself and then practically ran to the sink to wash her hands. She was depressed, but she wasn’t going to risk getting sick too. The bathroom door opened, and Max silently cursed. Now she was going to have to deal with whoever had entered the bathroom.
“Looks like the gremlin decided on leaving her cave.”
Max sighed at the voice. It was Becca. Newest rich brat to join Blackwell. She made Victoria seem nice. Max turned, seeing that the blonde was standing there in an expensive outfit. It probably cost more than her tuition. Max chose to ignore the blonde and tried to walk past her, only to be shoved into the wall.
“Oh, you aren’t leaving,” Becca sneered.
“I’m really not in the mood to deal with your crap today Becca.”
“You aren’t in the mood? Ha! Not like I care if you’re in the mood. I can’t believe that you’ve been staying in your room for two days,” Becca spoke. She crinkled her nose and waved her hand in front of her. “You definitely smell like you haven’t bathed in two days…oh wait, that’s just your normal smell.”
“Har, har. Anything else you’d like to say to me?” Max grumbled. She just wanted to go back to her room. Becca’s eye grew angry, and she slammed her palm against the wall, next to Max’s head. The sound made her jump and she tried to keep herself from shaking. Bathrooms were already a bad memory for her. This wasn’t helping. “Leave me alone.”
“What was that? I couldn’t hear you over your shaking bones. Why don’t you speak louder?” Becca teased. Max felt like the walls were closing in on her and she slammed her eyes shut. She needed to leave! She needed to be safe in her room and away from others.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Max bellowed. Becca laughed at her outburst and Max felt like she couldn’t breathe. She needed to get away from the blonde. A loud yelp filled her ears, and she cracked her eyes open to see Rachel standing in front of her, blocking her from Becca. The blonde was on the floor with Chloe towering over her.
“Back the fuck off!” Chloe growled.
“You hit me!” Becca gaped. Chloe cracked her knuckles and squared her shoulders.
“And I’ll do it again if you come anywhere near Max again!” Chloe threatened. Becca paled at that.
“I-you won’t get away with this!” Becca stammered. Rachel stood straighter, but didn’t move from in front of Max.
“I’ve got enough dirt on you to bury you. So, you’d best scurry off before I post that little stunt you did in Vegas all over Blackwell’s social media pages,” Rachel threatened. Becca looked like she was going to further protest, but she snapped her mouth before getting up to run out of the bathroom.
“And don’t you fucking come back!” Chloe yelled. Rachel shook her head before turning to directly look at Max.
“Are you okay?” Rachel softly asked. Max took a shuddery breath, trying to breathe. Her chest still hurt. Was the room spinning? Chloe cautiously approached and placed her hand against Max’s chest. Much like she would do when they were kids and Max was having a panic attack.
“Hey Mad Max, breathe into my hand…okay?” Chloe instructed. Max nodded and felt the press of Chloe’s hand against her chest, helping her focus on breathing. She felt the tension leave her shoulders as she continued to breathe into her friend’s hand. “You’re doing great Maxi-Pad.”
Max chuckled at that. Chloe and her damn nicknames. The blue-haired teen smiled, and Rachel held out her hand to Max.
“Do you want to get out of here? We can go to your room or mine,” Rachel asked. As much as Max wanted to return to her room, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be alone again.
“C-can we go to yours?” Max asked, hesitantly taking Rachel’s hand. The blonde nodded with a smile on her face.
“Of course,” Rachel beamed. Chloe moved her hand to Max’s other hand, and she allowed them to lead her to Rachel’s room. It was comforting feeling the warmth that emanated from their touch. Comforting and safe. Rachel opened the door for them before Chloe led her to the bed. She helped her sit and Rachel pulled a soft quilt over her shoulders. “I can make you some tea if you want?”
“I would like that,” Max smiled. Rachel squeezed her hand before moving to her coffee pot. Chloe ran soothing circles on her had with her thumb while they waited. They sat in content silence, but Max could tell that the gears were turning in Chloe’s head. She was always bad at hiding when she was worried. “I’m okay.”
“I find that hard to believe,” Chloe sighed. She looked at Rachel’s desk and Max saw her journal sitting there. Oh.
“Did you guys um…did you guys read it?” Max asked. Chloe nodded and looked into her eyes with defeated blue ones.
“I’m sorry you had to go through all of that and that I forced you to talk about it. I should never have forced you to talk about it. It wasn’t right of me. I’m sorry you had to go through that on your own,” Chloe spoke. Max looked away and stared at their joined hands.
“I just…I didn’t want you to have to worry about it,” Max spoke. She felt Rachel sit beside her and looked at the other teen. “I didn’t want either of you to worry.”
“It’s not fair to you though that you have to go through this on your own,” Rachel spoke. Max shook her head and looked at the ceiling.
“It was my burden to bear,” Max murmured. She felt Chloe wrap her arms around her waist, pulling her in for a tight hug.
“You don’t have to do this on your own Max,” Chloe spoke. Max rested her head on hers.
“I don’t want you to do this by yourself. I can’t say I completely understand, but I’m here for you. If you just want to ever talk, I’ll try to understand,” Chloe promised. Rachel moved closer and joined their hug.
“Same here. It’s a little crazy thinking about what happened before you intervened with time, but I want to help you…if you’d let me,” Rachel spoke. Max felt her tears fall and she let herself cry for the first time since she had traveled back in time. When she was in the bathroom thinking that she was going to have to lose Chloe again. She felt Chloe and Rachel tighten their embraces, holding her close as she broke down. It was far too hard trying to burden this on her own. But maybe, just maybe. With Chloe and Rachel by her side, she’d be okay.
Her tears slowly stopped, and she found herself lying between Chloe and Rachel with the blonde holding her from behind. Rachel placed a soft kiss to the back of her neck before resting her head against her shoulder.
“I know this is a little soon, but we will need to talk about your little confession a few days ago,” Rachel softly spoke. Max groaned and buried her head against Chloe’s chest.
“I don’t want to,” Max grumbled. Chloe pressed a kiss to her forehead before pulling the quilt over them.
“To be honest, I think we’d make a badass trio,” Chloe grinned. Max giggled against Chloe’s chest and felt Rachel laugh behind her. “What? I think we would?”
“I agree with you Chloe, but that’s up to Max if she wants us to be in a relationship,” Rachel chuckled. Max frowned and moved to look behind her.
“I’m saying that we like you too dummy,” Rachel smiled.
“You do?” Max gaped.
“Course we do! Why do you think we kept inviting you over and asking if you wanted to spend the night?” Chloe asked. Max opened and closed her mouth before choosing to lie back down.
“Wowzer,” Max awed.
“God you’re such a nerd,” Chloe chuckled.
“I think it’s cute,” Rachel cooed. Max smiled and let herself enjoy the warmth of the two teens that hugged her. They would need to talk about this more and about the whole-time travelling thing, but Max wasn’t that worried. She knew that she had the two of them by her side. She wouldn’t have to do this on her own ever again.