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‘Time travel may be possible, but it is not practical.’ — Stephen Hawking

 

Location: Lighthouse

Time: Day

 

“This is my storm. I caused this... I caused all of this. I changed fate and destiny so much that... I actually did alter the course of everything. And all I really created was just death and destruction,” Max yelled.

 

Chloe placed a hand on Max’s shoulder and forced her life long friend to look at her and said, “Fuck all of that, okay? You were given a power. You didn't ask for it... and you saved me. Which had to happen, all of this did... except for what happened to Rachel. But without your power, we wouldn't have found her! Okay, so you're not the goddamn Time Master, but you're Maxine Caulfield... and you're amazing.”

 

Feeling tears welling in her eyes, Chloe pulled out the photo of the butterfly and said, “Max, this is the only way.”

 

Max took the photo in her hand and couldn’t believe it.

 

“I feel like I took this shot a thousand years ago.”

 

“You… You could use that photo to change everything right back to when you took that picture… All that would take is for me to… to…”

 

Max saw Chloe place her hands on her face and said, “Fuck that! No… no way! You are my number one priority now. You are all that matters to me.”

 

Chloe lowered her hands and said, “I know. You proved that over and over again… even though I don't deserve it. I'm so selfish… not like my mom… Look what she had to give up and live through… and she did. She deserves so much more than to be killed by a storm in a fucking diner. Even my step… father deserves her alive. There's so many more people in Arcadia Bay who should live… way more than me…”

 

“Don’t say that… I won't trade you,” Max said.

 

"You're not trading me. Maybe you've just been delaying my real destiny… Look at how many times I've almost died or actually died around you. Look at what's happened in Arcadia Bay ever since you first saved me. I know I've been selfish, but for once I think I should accept my fate… our fate…”

 

Tears in her eyes, Max begged, “Chloe…”

 

“Max, you finally came back to me this week, and… you did nothing but show me your love and friendship. You made me smile and laugh, like I haven't done in years. Wherever I end up after this… in whatever reality… all those moments between us were real, and they'll always be ours. No matter what you choose, I know you'll make the right decision.”

 

Placing her hands on her face, Max said, “Chloe… I can't make this choice…”

 

Chloe grabbed Max's arms and said, “No, Max... You're the only one who can.”

 

Max closed her eyes and started crying as Chloe, her own tears shedding, held Max’s chin and lifted her head to make direct eye contact.

 

“Max… it’s time…”

 

Max slowly nodded her head as Chloe pulled Max in for a hug. While in the embrace, Max said, “Chloe… I’m so, so sorry… I… I don’t want to do this.”

 

Breaking the embrace, Chloe said, “I know, Max. But we have to. We have to save everybody, okay? And you'll make those fuckers pay for what they did to Rachel. Being together this week… it was the best farewell gift I could have hoped for. You're my hero, Max.”

 

In that moment, Max slowly approached Chloe and placed her hands on Chloe’s cheeks and the two shared a passionate kiss. Chloe placed her hands on Max’s hands and slowly pulled them down.

 

“I’ll always love you,” Chloe said as she stepped back, “Now, get out of here, please! Do it before I freak.”

 

As Max was about to focus, Chloe said, “And Max Caulfield?”

Max turned around to face Chloe as she pointed at Max and said, “Don’t you forget about me.”

 

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Morning

 

Max was stirring in her bed, mumbling a few incoherent words before she shot up from her bed, extended her arm forward and yelled, “Chloe!”

 

Recognizing that she was in her dorm room, Max laid back down and looked up at the dark ceiling. As she stared off at the blank void that was her ceiling, Max placed a hand on her chest and felt her heart going so fast, she thought that she was going to explode. Slowly calming herself down, Max let out a dejected sigh as she continued staring at the ceiling as that last statement by Chloe echoed in Max’s mind.

 

‘Don’t you forget about me…’

 

“I’m sorry Chloe,” Max said as she closed her eyes and curled up into a ball in her bed and started crying again for what felt like the hundredth time.

 

It’s been four days since Max had gone back in time once again to try and fix everything… four days since Max returned to that bathroom and let Chloe get killed by Nathan again… while she sat just around the corner and did nothing to save her long time friend and crush.

 

Ever since Chloe’s murder, things have been, for the most part, going as Max had planned. Nathan was arrested, confessed almost immediately, and then Jefferson was arrested shortly after. The Dark Room was discovered and so was Rachel Amber’s gravesite.

 

And life continued on for everyone… except for Max.

 

Ever since she went back in time again, Max has been begun to see things, hear things, both in her dreams and when she is awake. But these aren’t just nightmares, they’re something else…

 

*bzzzzzt*

 

Turning to her bedside table, Max saw the light of her phone illuminating multiple notifications. Grabbing her phone, Max opened it and read said notifications:

 

October 11th, 2013

7:38 AM

2 Messages

 

‘Max, honey, your father and I know that this week has been hard on you after learning about what happened to Chloe. If you want to come home for a few days, we would completely understand. Just please respond and let us know that you’re okay.’ — Mom

 

‘Yo Max, apparently the drive in’s been cancelled. Some weird weather going on outside. But perhaps we could see it in one of the classrooms? I hear that Jefferson’s old classroom has a kick ass projector. I could bring my hard drive and we can enjoy some movies there’ — Warren

 

Not wanting to reply to either of them, Max decided to simply turn off and set the phone back down on her bedside table. After slowly getting out of bed, Max walked towards the window and opened the curtains to look outside. But as she looked at her reflection in the window, Max saw Chloe in the reflection.

 

‘Don’t forget about me…’

 

“Chloe,” Max asked as she turned around… only to see that no one was in the room with her. Looking back at the glass, Max saw only her reflection… all alone.

 

‘You’re just waking up, Max,’ She thought to herself as she heard a knock on the door.

 

Walking up to and opening the door, Max was greeted with seeing her friend, Kate Marsh, standing just in front of the door.

 

Because Jefferson and Nathan were caught in this timeline, Kate was never drugged and taken to the Dark Room… which mean that  there was no video of her that was posted online, and that meant Kate never went to the rooftop and… well, Max does not enjoy remembering that moment, even if it didn’t happen in this reality.

 

Seeing Kate walking around school from her window was the one thing that made Max feel somewhat happy, even if it was for the briefest of moments.

 

“Oh! Max, good morning,” Kate seemed shocked that Max had answered the door.

 

“Hey Kate,” Max said dryly as she rubbed her eyes.

 

“How are you,” Kate asked.

 

“…I’m okay, yourself,” Max asked.

 

“Well, I um… I’m worried about you,” Kate said.

 

“Why,” Max asked.

 

“No one has heard from you ever since what happened to that girl a couple of days ago,” Kate said as she looked down the hallway, “I’ve been hearing a rumor going around the school that you knew that girl who died? Is that true?”

 

As Max continued to stare at Kate, she saw Chloe walk up behind Kate and stare at Max… only this Chloe had a gunshot wound in her stomach.

 

‘Don’t forget about me…’

 

“Max?”

 

From Kate’s perspective, Max was just staring off past her and mumbling something that sounded like, “I’m sorry…”

 

“Max,” Kate said louder.

 

Max seemed to come back to reality and looked at Kate to see the concerned look that she had on her face.

 

“Y-Yeah… Chloe. She was um… she was an old friend of mine,” Max said.

 

“Oh… I’m sorry. That must be hard… Do you wanna talk about it? You know I’ll always lend an ear,” Kate said.

 

‘I’d like that, Kate… more than anything. But you would think I’m crazy,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“No, that’s okay. She and I were friends when we were kids, but then I moved to Seattle and… well, I didn’t do a good job of staying in touch. But… it still sucks what happened to her,” Max felt her self screaming in her mind at what she was saying, “I’ll be fine.”

 

“Okay,” Kate said.

 

“Look, after this round of projects, why don’t you and I get some tea later,” Max gave a fake smile.

 

“That sounds like a plan, Max Caulfield,” Kate smiled back.

 

“Great. I better get back to it. See you later,” Max said as she shut the door.

 

As Max turned around, she saw Nathan Prescott aiming a gun at her. Shocked, Max held up her hands and asked, “Nathan?”

 

‘You are such a little bitch, you know that,’ Nathan asked as he turned the safety off of his gun.

 

“Y-You should be in jail right now,” Max said.

 

Nathan grabbed Max and slammed her against the wall.

 

‘You keep trying to help people and look what happens to them. You killed your best friend how many times now? Two? Three? Me, Victoria, Mr. Jefferson, that fucking security guard? All of us are dead because of you! Yet you won’t just let us die!’

 

“I was just trying to help you,” Max said as she felt the gun being placed under her chin.

 

‘Well con-fucking-grats, you stupid bitch, have a medal for trying.’

 

Max closed her eyes as she heard Nathan say, ‘I bet if I pulled this trigger, nobody would ever even miss your dyke ass. Would they?’

 

Max slowly shook her head and said, “…No.”

 

Max heard the shot ring and expected to see the pearly gates or hopefully just Chloe… but when she opened her eyes, Nathan was gone and she was in her room alone once again. Another illusion…

 

Her back still against the wall, Max slowly slid down until she was sitting against the door, feeling her eyes beginning to tear up.

 

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry,” Max said.

 

Suddenly, Max heard her phone releasing a loud alert. Grabbing her phone again, Max read the alert notification.

 

‘Arcadia Bay Emergency Broadcast: Weather analysts are reporting that a category 6 tornado is forming just ten miles from Arcadia Bay shoreline and is expected to make contact with solid land within the hour. Residents are hereby instructed to evacuate your homes and head to any emergency shelters.’

 

Max’s eyes widened as she muttered, “No… no, no, no!”

 

Suddenly, Max heard screaming in the hall and ran out to see what was going. As Max walked out into the hall, she saw everyone was running out of their rooms. Some were fully clothed while others were in their pajamas. Hearing Victoria’s door opening up, Max looked to the other end of the hall and saw Victoria running out with a small bag.

 

“This can’t be real,” Victoria said.

 

“It… It shouldn’t…”

 

“Good luck Max,” Victoria said as she started running down the hall.

 

As Max watched Victoria running away, she also saw Kate run out of her room with her bunny in its carrier.

 

Kate looked over to Max and said, “Max!”

 

Running over to her friend, Kate asked, “Did you see the alert?”

 

“It… It’s not…”

 

Kate ran up to Max and grabbed her hand before saying, “We have to get out of here! Come on!”

 

Without a second to think, the two started running down the staircase and out of the dorms for Max to feel the wind was already picking up. Looking towards the coast, Max saw the same thing she’s had visions of for the last week… the tornado. Heading straight for Arcadia Bay.

 

“Max come on,” Kate said as she tried to pull Max along with her.

 

But as she ran ahead, she felt the connection break. Turning back, Kate saw Max standing her ground.

 

“Max,” Kate asked.

 

Max stared ahead and saw a vision of Chloe standing just a few feet in front of her.

 

‘You killed me, Max… for nothing…’

 

“Chloe,” Max said.

 

“Max,” Kate yelled as the wind began to pick up.

 

Max looked towards Kate for a few moments before turning around and running back towards the dorms.

 

“MAX,” Kate yelled.

 

Max, in her bare feet, briefs and t-shirt, ran as fast as she could towards her dorm room. As she ran into the open space of the girls’ dormitory, Max saw another vision of Chloe standing in the center. This time, it was her paralyzed body in the electric wheelchair.

 

‘You know what my father did once he found my dead body Max? He cursed your name…’

 

“I…”

 

Suddenly, Max heard the sounds of cracks coming from the dorm and saw the windows beginning to weaken from the force of the tornado. Looking back at the vision, Max saw that it had vanished.

 

Running inside, Max went up to the second floor and saw a younger Chloe standing in the hall. Instead of blue hair, it was her normal dirty blonde hair.

 

My mother begged me to wake up when she found me,’ the vision said.

 

“Stop…” Max said as she ran past the Chloe vision and entered her room.

 

Looking around the room, Max saw her journal. Running to it, Max opened it to the date of Chloe’s death and saw the photo. The butterfly photo from the bathroom…

 

Only it was torn in half, something Max did shortly after Chloe’s death to ensure that she didn’t do something… like this.

 

“Come on,” Max said as she grabbed some tape and mended the photo back together, “Please… Please work.”

 

The glass on her window began to crack, but Max didn’t care. She had one goal in mind… go back.

 

Finishing her procedure, Max grabbed the photo and concentrated.

 

“Come on,” Max begged as she tried to activate her travel powers.

 

But they never did activate…

 

Tears cascading down Max’s face, Max planted her head on her desk and started crying.

 

‘It’s okay Max…’

 

“SHUT UP,” Max yelled as she stood still in the room and faced nothing.

 

Suddenly, Max’s window shattered and the strong winds flew inside. Max looked out of her broken wall at the tornado with an expression that shifted from sadness, to confusion, to rage as she balled her hands into fists and yelled, “WHY? I WENT BACK! I LET HER DIE! I LET HER DIE FOR NOTHING!”

 

Of course, there was no response.

 

Her expression reverted back to sadness as Max fell to her knees, which were beginning to be cut by the broken glass that stayed behind. Max began sobbing as she began to feel the dorm room shaking.

 

Looking ahead of her, she saw another vision of Chloe, this one had a bullet hole in her head… the Chloe that Jefferson shot in the junkyard.

 

‘It’s okay Max…’

 

“No, Chloe… it’s not… you died for nothing,” Max said as she sat down and stared at her bleeding kneecaps.

 

‘I did… and so did Rachel… and now… so will you. But it’s okay… we’ll all be together,’ Chloe said.

 

‘Rachel,’ Max thought to herself.

 

‘Max honey, can you come here? We’d like to talk to you about something…’

 

‘Just a second!’

 

Max looked towards her wall of photos as she heard an echoing voice coming from one of the photos. Standing up, Max ran over to her bed and started to skim through the photos.

 

Suddenly, Max felt the building shake violently as a large crack went up along the wall, knocking down the whole photo wall onto her bed.

 

“Shit no,” Max yelled as she got on her knees and started searching through the pile of thread and photos.

 

The photo of her times in Arcadia, like when she arrived in the airport from Seattle or when she showed up in Blackwell for the first time… or when she was with Chloe…

 

‘Max…’

 

Turning toward the voice, Max saw Victoria standing in front of her. But this Victoria had pale and decaying skin, her eyes white and cloudy, and blood dripping from her nose and mouth.

 

‘How many more of us will you make suffer before you finally learn…’

But Max did not respond. Instead, Max just looked back towards the pile of polaroids on the bed and continued searching until she felt it… that connection that she felt with the photos that she could travel through. Turning the picture over, Max saw that it was the photo she was looking for.

 

‘March 2nd, 2008’

 

Two weeks before Max left for Seattle…

 

Max slowly placed both hands on the photo, she heard the distinct voices of her and her parents.

 

‘Max honey, can you come here? We’d like to talk to you about something…’

 

‘Just a second!’

 

“Chloe,” Max said as she looked at the tornado, “I’m coming…”

 

Max shifted her focus back to the photo and felt herself be pulled in.

 

Max had gone back in time. Again.

Chapter Text

‘Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity? Insanity is doing the exact same fucking thing… over and over again expecting shit to change. That is crazy.’ — Vaas Montenegro

 

Max’s eyes fluttered as she tried to regain her vision after being blinded by the flash of her polaroid camera. Looking around her surroundings, Max saw that she was standing in her Arcadia Bay home.

 

Quickly setting down her camera, Max ran out of her room and into the bathroom to look at herself in the mirror.

 

Max was staring at her twelve year old self in the mirror. Slowly placing her hand on her face, Max almost gasped as she touched her skin, as if her skin was scolding hot.

 

‘It worked,’ Max thought to herself as she gave a small smile.

 

“Maaaaax,” She heard her father call out.

 

Max turned her head towards the hallway as she heard her mom’s voice coming from her parents’ room.

 

“Sorry, I’ll be right there. I’m in the bathroom,” Max yelled back as she looked back at the mirror.

 

‘Okay Max, you just gotta think… It’s not that hard. You just have to figure out how to convince your parents to stay in Arcadia while they move to Seattle… and hope that they actually listen to you… a twelve year old. Yeah, no pressure at all…’

 

After a few minutes of thinking, Max sighed as she said, “Okay… here goes nothing.”

 

After spraying some water on her hands to look like she washed them Max opened the bathroom door and began to walk down the hallway and contemplate what she was planning on doing.

 

‘Okay Max… dad gets the job in Seattle. Maybe start by talking about your friends… then talk about potential letters of recommendation by some of the teachers. What were their names, again? Oh right, it was… Mrs. Sanchez and… Mr. Adams. Okay Sanchez and Adams… What else? I could suggest getting a part time job here. Oh, but then they’ll just say I can get a job in Seattle. Shit…’

 

Max turned the corner and saw her parents’ door and continued to think.

 

‘Wait a minute… Joyce! She always told Chloe to get a job at the diner. So if I can convince them about that, the letters of recommendation, and suggest maybe that it is cheaper, this might work… God help me, I hope it works,’ Max thought to herself as she stood in front of the door.

 

Constantly trying to calm herself down, Max slowly grabbed the doorknob and opened the door to see her mom and dad sitting on their bed.

 

“Hey guys,” Max said.

 

“Hey Max,” Max’s mom said with a smile.

 

“Did you wash your hands,” Max’s dad asked.

 

“Huh? Oh yeah, I did,” Max waved her fingers.

 

“Good girl,” Max’s dad chuckled.

 

“Max, honey, come take a seat,” Max’s mom said.

 

“There is something that we need to talk to you about,” Max’s dad said.

 

‘I can’t be obvious about knowing about Seattle… crap, what should I say,’ Max thought to himself.

 

“If this is about the wine incident at Chloe’s, we didn’t drink any. We were just pretending,” Max said.

 

“Max, this isn’t about that,” Max’s mom said.

 

“This is about something to do with all of us,” Max’s dad said.

 

“What is it,” Max asked, pretending to be curious.

 

“You remember that job that your father was talking about for the past few weeks,” Max’s mom asked.

 

“Yeah, that senior manager position,” Max asked.

 

Her father nodded and said, “Well, the good news is that I got it.”

 

Max pretended to be shocked and said, “That’s great!”

 

Max noticed the looks on her parents’ faces and asked, “Isn’t it?”

 

“Well… that’s the bad news. The position is in Seattle,” Max’s dad said.

 

Max shifted her gaze from one parent to the other before she said, “Wait, but that would mean…”

 

“We will be moving to Seattle,” Max’s mom said.

 

‘Think Max… You can’t just conjure the plan on the spot. You need to ease into it,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“B-But what about my friends at school,” Max asked.

 

“You can still keep in touch with them. And besides, I reckon that you’ll make plenty of friends in Seattle Max,” Max’s mom said.

 

“But what about school? Our whole plan for me to go to Blackwell.”

 

“There are plenty of middle schools and high schools that would be happy to welcome you, Max,” Max’s mom said.

 

“I don’t want to go to any school. I want to go to Blackwell,” Max said.

 

Max’s dad sighed and said, “Max, just because Chloe is going there doesn’t mean that you have too as well—”

 

“This isn’t just because Chloe is going to Blackwell, dad. Blackwell has one of the best photography programs in the country. Mrs. Sanchez and Mr. Adams even said that they were willing to write letters of recommendation to Blackwell when I finish the year,” Max said.

 

“Max, our decision is final. Besides, we can’t afford to have you here and live in Seattle,” Max’s mom said.

 

‘Okay… here goes nothing,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Well, what if I stay with the Prices,” Max asked.

 

“Max, don’t be ridiculous,” Max’s mom scoffed.

 

“But I practically live there as much as I do here. I’m sure that Joyce and William would be fine with me staying there at least until I graduate middle school. Then I can move into the dorms at Blackwell.”

 

“Joyce and William do love having Max around,” Max’s dad said.

 

“We can’t just suddenly ask them to have Max stay with them for a year and a half. William and Joyce are busy enough with Chloe. They can’t just suddenly take on another child,” Max’s mom said.

 

“What if I get a part time job at the diner,” Max asked, “Joyce has been mentioning a new waitress position to Chloe almost every time I’m at their place. I could take it. It can give me some job experience, some extra cash”

 

“It’s true that her middle school is cheaper than a lot of the schools in Seattle. Plus, we’re in the middle of the school year. If she left now, she’d be a semester behind. If she lives with the Prices, that would save us that money and a lot of transportation spending if she’s going to school and working with Joyce,” Max’s dad said.

 

Max watched as her moms released a conflicting sigh and rubbed the bridge of her nose.

 

‘Oh my god! She’s doing the thing she does when she doesn’t want to agree. How is this working,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Mom, please… don’t take me away from my friends.”

 

Max’s mom seemed to think about it for a moment before she turned to Max’s dad and said, “Where’s my phone?”

 

“Here, use mine,” Max’s dad said as he reached over to his bedside table, grabbed his cellphone, and handed it to Max’s mom.

 

“Max, can you step out of the room for a few minutes? I need to figure out how to ask them this,” Max’s mom said.

 

Max nodded and quickly walked out of the room.

 

‘That went better than I could have hoped… Now, all I can do is just hope that the Joyce and William are willing to let me stay with them,’ Max thought as she walked out of her parents’ room.

 

Once she was outside of her parents’ room, Max sat against the wall and listened in on the conversation.

 

“I can’t believe that I’m actually doing this,” Max’s mom said.

 

“Well, she made some good points, Vanessa,” Max’s dad said.

 

“I—” 

 

‘Hello?’

 

“Hi Joyce,” Max’s mom said in a happy voice.

 

‘Vanessa, how are you,’ Joyce said.

 

“Good, great actually.”

 

‘And how’s Ryan?’

 

“Still breathing,” Ryan chuckled, “How is the family?”

 

‘Well, you know. Chloe’s still grounded for that incident with the wine.’

 

“And we are still willing to pay for fixing it,” Ryan said.

 

‘And we are still willing to decline that offer,’ Joyce quickly responded.

 

“Joyce, we have some news and we were wondering if we could discuss it with you and William.”

 

‘Oh sure, let me go get him.’

 

“God I feel so embarrassed to be asking them this,” Vanessa said.

 

“The worst they can do is say no,” Ryan said.

 

‘Hey hey hey Caulfield family.’

 

Max couldn’t help but smile as she heard William’s voice.

 

‘The boss of the house says that you have something to talk about?’

 

“Well… we figured you two should be the first to know that Ryan got a promotion to be a senior manager at his work.”

 

‘Wow! Congrats, man. Next BBQ, the beers are on me,’ William chuckled.

 

“Well… While I would like to get my bourb on, that’s unfortunately gonna be a no go, William. We have some bad news. The job is in Seattle.”

 

‘Oh…Ohhh,’ William said, seeming to understand what this meant.

 

‘Have you told Max yet,’ Joyce asked.

 

“That’s… well, that’s why we wanted to speak to you…”

 

Max sat against the wall, her legs pulled up to her chest and biting her fingernails to the numb she was so nervous… What is going to change? What is not gonna change? Is Chloe gonna be alive when she gets back? Is Rachel? What is the plan when the storm arrives? What about--

 

Max winced as she felt that she had bitten into her thumb and saw some blood coming from her nail as the door opened and her dad stepped out and said, “Whoa, Max you okay there?”

 

“Yeah, sorry, I just hit a scab or something,” Max said as she wiped her thumb against her shirt, which hurt massively.

 

“Okay well, why don’t you come in,” Ryan said.

 

Max stood up and walked inside of her parents’ room to see Vanessa still sitting on the bed, phone in hand as she said,  “Joyce, William, Max is in the room now.”

 

‘Max,’ William said happily, ‘I hear that you have hatched quite the little plan to your folks on staying here in Arcadia.’

 

“Well, I uh… I wouldn’t exactly say that it was a plan,” Max said, “I just kinda thought of it on the spot."

 

‘If that’s true, I fear to imagine what you would have thought of in an hour,’ William chuckled.

 

‘Well, we all talked about it, Max,’ Joyce said.

 

“And?”

 

There was a brief moment of dead air between the Prices and the Caulfields before a familiar voice yelled, ‘And I would love to call you my roomie for the year!’

 

Max smiled as she heard Chloe’s voice.

 

“Really?”

 

‘Of course. You’re always welcome in the Price province,’ William said.

 

“Provided that you do chores as well as follow through and get that job at the diner,” Vanessa said.

 

“Y-Yes of course,” Max said.

 

‘Now don’t expect me to go easy on you cause you’ll be staying with us Max. I expect hard work at the diner,’ Joyce said.

 

“Of course, Joyce,” Max nodded.

 

‘Well, I suppose then that it’s settled. Since it’s the weekend, why don’t we come by tomorrow and help our new member pack up,’ William said.

 

“That sounds good to us,” Ryan said, “And hey Will, perhaps we can get one last BBQ in.”

 

‘Only if you’re grilling,’ William said as the two simultaneously said “AAAAAaaaaah” over the phone.

 

‘Then I guess we will be seeing you soon, Max,’ William said.

 

“Bye you guys,” Vanessa said.

 

‘Take care,’ Joyce said.

 

‘See you soon roomie,’ Chloe said.

 

As the phone hung up, Max’s parents looked at her as her mother sighed, “Well then… I must admit that this went better than I expected.”

 

“I promise that I’ll be good, mom,” Max said.

 

“Good. Because if you don’t, I’ll make you do the unspeakable,” Max’s mom said.

 

Max’s eyes widened as she said, “You don’t mean…”

 

“Oh I mean…”

 

“An internship at dad’s company,” Max and Vanessa said in unison before laughing together.

 

“Hey, it’s a good job position,” Ryan said.

 

“Yeah, if I wanna sit at a desk, bored out of my mind,” Max said.

 

“Alright, young lady, go get some sleep, we have a big day tomorrow,” Vanessa smiled.

 

“Okay,” Max said as she ran out of the room.

 

As Max started running back to her room, Max felt like she was walking on air. 

 

It worked. It actually worked.

 

But before Max could celebrate any further, Max noticed that everything around her began to fade out and she felt herself being removed from the memory.

 

Before she knew it, Max found herself floating in the middle of a bright plain of existence.

 

“The time stream,” Max said to the void as she saw images beginning to appear all around her, showing multiple memories of the past, present, and future.

 

‘This is ridiculous…’

 

Turning toward the voice, Max saw an image of a young Max getting her bags packed for Seattle.

 

‘I don’t wanna go…’

 

“This is when I was packing for Seattle… God knows how much I wanted to tell Chloe… but I never found the time to say it,” Max said as she looked sadly at the image.

 

But that sadness quickly changed as Max saw the image suddenly burned up and a bright light took its place. As the light faded, Max saw a new image took the former’s place. This image showed Max and Chloe waving goodbye to Max’s parents.

 

‘Bye mom and dad! Send us a postcard when you get there,’ Max yelled.

 

‘I’ll be a good caretaker, I promise,’ Chloe said.

 

‘We expect a call every night Max,’ Vanessa smiled, ‘Good luck.’

 

Max could not hide the smile on her face as another photo appeared before the time traveler, showing an image of a bunch of kids pointing and laughing at Max, who was holding her polaroid.

 

‘Who still uses a polaroid for their photography class?’

 

‘I just like using the polaroid more,’ Max said.

 

‘Okay, fair. By the way, the 80’s called. It wants their property back.’

 

‘Assholes…’

 

Max sighed as she stared at her younger self before the image burned bright and showed Max and Chloe in Chloe’s room, Chloe sitting and watching Max playing guitar.

 

We played hide and seek in waterfalls. We were younger, we were younger. Someday we will foresee obstacles. Through the blizzard, through the blizzard…’

 

‘Shit Max, where’d you become such a good guitarist?’

 

‘I have always had my way with guitars, Chloe. You know that,’ Max smiled, ‘Plus, William helped me the past few days.’

 

Then… an image of William’s funeral appeared before Max, showing Chloe and Joyce and a few family friends around the grave.

 

“Wait… William,” Max asked as she waited for something to change. Seeing the picture glowing bright, Max secretly hoped that William would be alive. But then, the image faded… and all that changed was Max standing beside Chloe at the funeral, holding her hand.

 

‘Thank you Max… I…’

 

‘It’s okay Chloe… I’m here for you… no matter what.’

 

Another image of Chloe crying alone in her room, clutching a recorder was replaced with Max holding Chloe as Chloe weeped into Max’s shoulder.

 

“Chloe,” Max said as she heard the voices from the picture.

 

‘I miss him so much Max…’

 

‘I know Chloe… I miss him too…’

 

“You had someone to talk to when you needed it the most,” Max said.

 

An image of Chloe smoking weed was replaced with an image of Chloe and Joyce helping Max move into Blackwell.

 

‘I don’t see the point of moving Max into Blackwell when we’re going to the same school,’ Chloe said.

 

‘Well maybe it has something to do with the fact that she doesn’t want to live in the attic anymore,’ Joyce said.

 

‘I don’t hate the attic. I just… am terrified of the attic. Spiders and all, you know,’ Max said.

 

An image of Max looking at camera sites was replaced with Max working at the Two Whales Diner.

 

‘Max, I need that order for table 7 delivered ASAP!’

 

‘Coming!’

 

Then, images of other events began to appear and change. An image of Chloe and Rachel running off to go explore was replaced with Max being introduced by Chloe to Rachel at Blackwell.

 

‘Hi there, my name’s Rachel. Rachel Amber.’

 

‘Max Caulfield.’

 

‘Chloe’s told me a lot about you.’

 

‘Good things, I hope?’

 

‘Obviously,’ Chloe said.

 

‘Definitely. And some things I wouldn’t mind learning more about.’

 

“Rachel Amber… I met her in this reality,” Max said, almost in disbelief before the image flew off and another image appeared, showing an image of Max taking a photo of the Seattle space needle was replaced with an image of Rachel, Max, and Chloe all huddled together and taking a selfie while on the train track.

 

‘Max, get closer!’

 

‘I’m trying.’

 

Max heard faint laughter as the photo flew off. Seeing another appear before her, Max instantly recognized the old memory. It was an image of Max taking a photo outside of the high school prom.

 

‘God I look ridiculous…’

 

The image was replaced with Max, Chloe, and Rachel holding hands together at Blackwell’s prom.

 

‘Everyone is staring at us.’

 

‘Who cares? Fuck them,’ Chloe said.

 

‘Not literally,’ Rachel said, again causing faint laughter from Max and Chloe.

 

An image of Chloe and Rachel planning out their plan to head to California was replaced with an image of Max, Chloe, and Rachel, seeming to be making ideas for something that looked like some type of company.

 

‘So it’s what? A modeling company,’ Rachel asked.

 

‘What about a designer company,’ Max asked, ‘Chloe makes the outfits and I take photos of you with the outfits on?’

 

‘Hell yeah,’ Chloe said.

 

“Wait… we’re making a company? That sounds… agh,” Max winced as she felt her head beginning to sting.

 

The once bright surroundings slowly began to turn red as more images began to appear around her.

 

An image of Rachel being dosed at a party by Nathan was replaced with an image of Max being dosed in her dorm room by Nathan.

 

‘Nathan? Wha- *gasp*’

 

Clutching her head in pain, Max began groaning and gritting her teeth as she felt herself losing her breath.

 

An image of Rachel lying unconscious on the floor of the Dark Room, being photographed by Nathan, was replaced by an image of Max taking Rachel’s place.

 

“Oh my god,” Max said to herself before suddenly she felt herself lose her breath.

 

Falling to her knees, Max grabbed her throat, desperately gasping for air. Feeling an excruciating pain on her arms, Max looked to see her body was slowly decaying. Looking up as one final photo placed itself in front of her, Max’s cloudy eyes widened as she saw the consequence of her actions.

 

An image of Rachel being placed into an unmarked grave in the junkyard by Nathan… was replaced with an image of Max being placed there instead.

 

As everything around Max slowly began to fade away, Max felt the pain in her head intensify as she screamed with every last ounce of air as she returned to the present.

 

Location: Junkyard

Time: Night

 

In the Arcadia Bay Junkyard, there was a small but distinct hill. Just a couple feet underneath the surface of the hill was a makeshift coffin. Inside the coffin was the long deceased body of Max Caulfield. Her body was decaying, her eyes cloudy and white, her teeth blackened, and her clothing molded and tattered.

 

However, the most unusual thing occurred. The body slowly shifted once… then again as a small glow began to appear around it.

 

The skin on her body began to return to its normal colors, her teeth turned white once more, her hair grew back, and her eyes returned to their normal color before shutting again. When her body seemed to completely revitalize itself, Max’s eyes shot open and she released a loud gasp.

Chapter Text

‘I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.’  — Roy Batty

 

Max’s eyes shot open as she let out a loud exhale, as if she were finally able to breathe after holding in her breath for a long time, while alos releasing a flurry of rough coughs.

 

“Oh my… Oh my god,” Max said in between coughs.

 

‘Jesus… where am I,’ Max thought to herself as she tried to look around to see where she was.

 

But she was unable to see anything. Not even what was right in front of her. Deducing that one sense was rendered useless, Max relied on one of her other senses.

 

Reaching ahead of her, Max quickly felt that she was in a tight box.

 

“Oh God, where am I,” Max said as she quickly began to feel her heart rate beginning to rise.

 

‘Max… calm down… You didn’t change reality again just to die… wherever we are now,’ Max thought to herself as she placed her hands on her chest and said, “Think of positive things. Um… It worked. The plan worked… at least I think it did. I can’t really say it worked if I don’t know where I am. Shut up Max, you’re losing your focus… Okay, I just need to feel it out.”

 

Pressing her palms against various sides of the confined space, Max tried to feel which side had the least amount of resistance. Each side was met with pretty heavy resistance… until she tried the board in front of her.

 

‘This board… it feels like it’s lighter. Maybe I can push my way out,’ Max thought to herself.

 

Placing both of her hands against the board, Max began pushing with a bit of force, only to feel that she was providing little to no effect.

 

‘Oh man this is heavier than I thought… Maybe if I can just add a bit more pressure…’

 

Shifting herself around, Max, now placing her back against the weaker board, placed both her hands and feet against the opposite board and began pushing again. This time, Max began feeling the board rising and began to feel specks of dirt falling through the cracks onto the bare areas of her back.

 

‘Jesus, where am I,’ Max thought to herself as she slowly gained more room inside of the box, Max slowly began straightening her legs and gaining more leverage against the board, allowing Max to push even harder.

 

“Come on, you son of a—WHOA,” Max gasped as she suddenly felt the board become as light as a feather and she flew a few inches out of her confined space before landing on the ground. The sudden bright light was almost blinding to Max that she placed her hands in front of her eyes as a shield. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the light, Max began looking around and saw a bunch of debris around her.

 

“Shit… is this after the storm,” Max asked.

 

But then she heard the sound of a train horn. Leaning her head toward the noise, she saw a train zipping by and then saw the cement structure just in front of the track. That meant she was in one particular place.

 

“Okay… I’m in the junkyard,” Max said as she slowly moved her hand and looked up at the sky. The sun was setting and the air was getting chilly.

 

“Oh god, I smell awful,” Max gagged as she sat up.

 

Looking down at herself, Max saw her molded and rotten clothes and thought, ‘What the hell happened to my clothes?’

 

Then she realized something.

 

‘Wait… If I was in a box in the junkyard… then…’

 

Looking back at her spot, Max’s eyes widened. She was in Rachel Amber’s grave, which meant… Just the thought of what that meant made Max feel sick. Placing her hand on her mouth, Max began gagging a bit before she turned away from the grave and vomited onto the ground.

 

‘You…’

 

Turning toward the voice, Max saw another Max standing just next to the grave. She was nothing but bones, rotting flesh, and milky eyes. She lifted her rotten arms up and began clapping, bits of flesh falling off with every clap.

 

‘You won’t let Chloe die, you won’t let Rachel die, you won’t let Kate, or Victoria, or Nathan, or David die… You won’t even let yourself die.’

 

Max wiped her mouth of the remaining bit of vomit as the vision continued.

 

‘Tell me… How many lives have you either killed, let die, or screwed over in the name of your selfish goal? ’

 

Max did not respond to the vision. Instead, Max started to get up. As she slowly got to her knees, the vision said, ‘No comeback? I expected better from me.’

 

“Maybe,” Max said as she slowly got to her feet, “I just hate hearing my own voice sometimes.”

 

‘Your snobby remarks won’t change the truth. You fucked with time again. You know what this means…’

 

“I do,” Max said as she stood up, “But all I care about… is saving Chloe.”

 

The vision scoffed and said, ‘Damn the town, save the girl. How cliche.’

 

Slowly taking a few steps forward, Max began to feel her body beginning to rework itself until she started to walk almost normally. Looking towards the train track, Max started walking in the direction back towards Arcadia. Taking one last look towards the grave, Max saw that the vision had vanished. Looking back towards the track, Max was more determined than ever to get back home.

 

Back to Chloe.

 

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Evening

 

In room 222 of the girls’ dormitory, Rachel Amber was working on an essay for one of her classes as she felt a pair of arms wrap around her.

 

“Hey Chloe,” Rachel smiled as she continued working on the paper.

 

“What are you working on,” Chloe asked as she placed her neck on Rachel’s shoulder.

 

“Right now, I’m working on figure out how to kill myself rather than type this stupid paper,” Rachel said.

 

“Is this that paper for Jefferson,” Chloe asked.

 

“Yeah, he wants us to compare and contrast how certain art styles have maintained their relevance in today’s world.”

 

“That sounds…”

 

“Boring,” Rachel asked.

 

“I was most definitely not gonna say boring. I was gonna say… okay yeah, boring,” Chloe said.

 

“And what about you, Miss Science? How’s your paper going?”

 

“Finished and turned in,” Chloe said.

 

“Well, why don’t you let me finish this so that I can enjoy the same freedom that you have,” Rachel asked.

 

“Because then it won’t be fun to annoy you,” Chloe said.

 

“You’re ridiculous,” Rachel said.

 

“Only for you and Max,” Chloe said as she started pecking Rachel’s cheek repeatedly.

 

“Okay, okay,” Rachel laughed as she pushed Chloe away, “Come on. I need to focus on this.”

 

Chloe rolled her eyes as she walked back over to Rachel’s bed and sat down. Sighing, Chloe flopped her back onto the bed and began looking around the room. Looking towards Rachel’s bedside table, Chloe saw the pile of missing posters and asked, “Hey… do you think that we can go around downtown tomorrow? Put some more posters up?”

 

“Sure, but it will have to be after class. I have a big test in Calculus,” Rachel said.

 

Picking up the missing posters and setting them on the ground, Chloe saw a small pile of Max’s polaroid photos. Grabbing them, Chloe looked at each one and reminisced.

 

One of them showed Chloe, Max, and Rachel along the train track in hiking gear. Max was taking the selfie while Rachel was giving Max a peck on the cheek and Chloe was laughing.

 

‘I remember this trip. It was to celebrate our one week as the Golden Trio. I still can’t believe Max agreed to it. I don’t think I ever saw Max smile as widely as she is in this picture.’

 

Going to the next picture, Chloe saw Max at the lighthouse wearing her most professional outfit, which consisted of a purple cardigan and a black and white striped shirt and tan jeans.

 

‘Hmph, Max had me take this photo of her for her portfolio… I remember taking like ten of them before she actually decided which one she liked the most.’

 

Setting that photo aside, Chloe saw the third photo, which showed Chloe, Rachel, and Max when they went to the beach together. The image showed Chloe and Rachel enjoying the sun while Max was holding the camera like a selfie underneath the umbrella.

 

“Hey… Remember when the three of us went to the beach last year,” Chloe asked.

 

“Chloe, I,” Rachel turned and saw Chloe staring at the photo. Hesitating for a moment, Rachel released a small exhale before she said, “Yes, I remember…”

 

“She was so worried about the camera getting sand in it that she walked all the way back to the truck to put it in a safe place,” Chloe said as she felt her eyes beginning to swell up.

 

“And then we decided to hide it and pretended that someone stole it,” Rachel started chuckling.

 

“I’ve never been scared of Max in the time I’ve known her. But at that moment, I thought she was gonna skin us alive,” Chloe chuckled as she felt tears streaming down her cheek, “If we… When we find her Rachel… I wanna go to the beach again.”

 

Rachel walked over and placed an arm around Chloe and said, “Of course. We’ll go back there and we’ll hide her camera in a place no one will dare to look.”

 

Chloe began laughing and crying as her phone began to ring. Pulling it out, she saw that it was her mom. Wiping her eyes, Chloe said, “Shit… sorry, I told my mom I’d be home before seven.” 

 

As Chloe stood up, she quickly pecked Rachel on the cheek one last time before she said, “Good luck on the paper. Love you.”

 

“Love you too,” Rachel said as Chloe ran out of the room.

 

As Chloe walked into the hallway, she answered the phone, “Hey mom.”

 

‘Chloe…’

 

“Yes, Yes, I know I’m late,” Chloe said.

 

‘How’s Rachel?’

 

“She’s good… we were just um,” Chloe sniffled.

 

‘Talking about Max?’

 

“That easy to tell,” Chloe asked with a nasally voice, “Anyways um… yeah, I’ll be back soon.”

 

‘Chloe, I know that you miss your friend…’

 

“She was more than that, mom,” Chloe said somewhat angrily as she walked out into the stairway.

 

‘Yes, I understand… but unfortunately, they are her parents, Chloe. And they believe that it is time to start moving Max’s things back to their house.’

 

“What? No, fuck that,” Chloe said as she walked out of the dormitory.

 

‘Chloe, I understand that you think Max is coming back. But it’s been half a year, sweetie. They deserve to have their daughter’s belongings back.’

 

“And I deserve to decide what leaves my room.”

 

‘Chloe, Max wasn’t your property.’

 

“You’re right, and she isn’t their property either. She’s eighteen,” Chloe said.

 

‘Chloe…’

 

“Look, it’s cold as shit out here and I need to get home. Can we talk about this later?”

 

‘We’ll talk about it after dinner.’

 

“…Fine,” Chloe said as she walked through the main courtyard of the school.

 

‘Okay, now come on home.’

 

“Bye mom,” Chloe said as she hung up the phone.

 

Standing there in the center of the courtyard, Chloe felt tears cascading down her cheeks as she stared up at the sky.

 

‘Max… if you’re out there. Give us a fucking sign… please,’ Chloe thought.

 

Then, looking straight ahead, Chloe gritted her teeth and said out loud, “The hell, Chloe… What do you mean ‘if’? She’s alive… And when you see her again, she’s got a shit ton of explaining to do or you’ll kill her yourself.”

 

Chloe continued walking to her truck. Hopping in the car, Chloe pulled out her phone and opened up her photos. Going to her only liked video in her camera roll, Chloe clicked play.

 

‘Say hey, Maxasaurus,’ Chloe said off screen as she held the camera.

 

‘Hey,’ Max smiled and waved.

 

‘And of course, we have the Amberaptor,’ Chloe’s voice sounded similar to a WWE announcer.

‘Raaaawr,’ Rachel made claws with her index fingers, ‘Yes, I am the Amberaptor and my prey… the Maxasaurus!’

 

‘NO,’ Max laughed as Rachel grabbed her by the waist and started kissing Max’s neck until Max went fake limp.

 

‘The Maxasaurus… knew it had lost the second she was hit with that kiss,’ Max said.

 

‘Yes, and now the Amberaptor is going to take her prey… TO BED,’ Rachel said.

 

‘Wait, this wasn’t part of the bit! This wasn’t part of the bit,’ Max laughed as Rachel dragged Max away from Chloe.

 

As they got off screen, Chloe turned the camera and said, ‘You see what I have to put up with here, mom?’

 

As the recording stopped, Chloe saw a tear or two had landed on her phone. Wiping both her phone and her eyes, Chloe composed herself as best as she could, set the phone down, and began driving back home.

 

Location: Highway

Time: Night

 

Alongside the highway, two highway patrol officers were sitting in their car, enjoying some food from the Two Whales Diner and listening to the radio.

 

‘And that makes it another win for our proud Oregon State University thanks to the school’s quarterback, Drew North, who managed to score a touchdown within the last fifteen seconds of the game, earning OSU a surprising win. When asked what his main motivation was, North told our own reporter, Meera Nava, that his motivation has been helping his dad and brother as much as he can. In other news, it has now been about six months since Maxine Caulfield, the aspiring photography student, mysteriously vanished without any leads. Her parents, Vanessa and Ryan Caulfield, believe that now is time to consider that Max may not be coming back. Ryan Caulfield, Maxine’s father, had this to say: A part of me will always believe that she is somewhere out there… yet now, I feel that we must come to terms with the potential truth that my daughter is no longer with us. It something that we have been dreading to even imagine these past few months. No parent should have to bury his child. The Caulfields have reached out to the Price family, who Maxine was staying with during her academic career, and has begun asking for their daughter’s belongings to be returned to them.’

 

“What a damn shame,” One of the officers said.

 

“Has it really been almost half a year?”

 

“I guess so… feels like yesterday.”

 

“Everything feels like it was yesterday. Like one time… I…”

 

“One time, you what,” The officer asked as she looked to her partner.

 

The officer saw her partner was staring ahead at something. Looking in the same direction, the two saw a figure was walking down the opposite side of the highway.

 

“What the hell is that,” The other officer asked.

 

“I don’t know,” The officer said as he grabbed his radio, “This is Officer Owens and Officer Jensen on the highway patrol. We have eyes on a 10-107.”

 

‘10-4, can you identify?’

 

“Individual appears to be female… and is walking with a small limp. Potentially injured. Possible EMS may be needed. Investigating now. Owens out,” Owens said as he started the car.

 

The cruiser pulled out into the highway, drove down the road before pulling a U-Turn, putting them on the other side, and began riding up behind the mysterious figure.

 

“Command, this is Officer Owens and Officer Jensen providing an update on our 107. Individual seems to have heavily torn clothing and appears to be in some form of shock. Requesting an EMS for a possible 10-109.”

 

‘10-4. An EMS is en route now.’

 

“We should try and talk to her,” Jensen said.

 

Officer Owens turned on the car’s sirens and activated the megaphone, “Miss. Excuse me. Miss. I am officer Greg Owens and with me is Officer Dana Jensen. You are currently walking along the highway, which violates highway code 814.070 1 E. We ask that you stop moving and wait for emergency services.”

 

The figure stopped moving and slowly turned around to face the cruiser. Once the figure did, Officer Owens stepped out of the car with a notepad and said, “Can you hear me?”

 

The figure nodded.

 

“Can you tell me your name,” Officer Owens asked.

 

Officer Jensen was still in the car as she saw the figure give her name. Owens seemed confused and asked again, which prompted the girl to respond again. Owens shut his notepad, walked over to his side of the car and grabbed the radio.

 

“Owens, what is it,” Jensen asked.

 

“Command… Uh… The girl says that her name is Max Caulfield.”

Chapter Text

‘If I could go back in time, what advice would you give your 21-year-old to sell? I would tell myself to think about my actions. They have consequences’ — Claire Contreras

 

Location: Price Residence

Time: Night

 

Chloe was texting away on her phone as Joyce sat across from her, staring at her daughter annoyingly as the two waited for David to return from his job at the station. Looking down at her plate, Joyce sighed as she saw that the steam from their food was long gone, leaving the two women with lukewarm dishes.

 

“So Chloe,” Joyce said, “how was school today?”

 

“Fine,” Chloe said.

 

“Would you care to elaborate?”

 

“Pretty much the same as yesterday,” Chloe sighed as she put her phone away and grabbed her fork, “Fuck this, I’m hungry.”

 

“Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“Mom,” Chloe said in a mocking tone.

 

“We wait until David comes home,” Joyce said.

 

“And we’ve been sitting here for almost an hour. My stomach is yearning for sustenance.”

 

“It has not been almost an hour, Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“Why the hell do we have to wait for him anyways,” Chloe asked.

 

“Because he works all day to provide for us and for your education. You can at least pretend to appreciate what he does for us,” Joyce said.

 

Chloe rolled her eyes and set her fork down.

 

“I’d appreciate it if he actually helped me look for Max,” Chloe said.

 

“Now that is not fair. He dedicated every available officer to look for her, Chloe. You know that,” Joyce said, “And since we are talking about Max… why don’t we continue where we left off earlier?”

 

“There isn’t anything left to talk about,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe.”

 

“What,” Chloe asked.

 

“It’s time I told you. I spoke with Vanessa and Ryan and they are going to be coming here this weekend to gather some of Max’s belongings.”

 

Chloe’s eyes widened as she yelled, “WHAT?”

 

“Chloe, lower your voice,” Joyce said.

 

“No, that’s bullshit,” Chloe said as she stood up.

 

“Chloe, that is enough. She was their daughter and they deserve to have their daughter’s belongings returned to them,” Joyce said.

 

“And Max IS my girlfriend… mine and Rachel’s,” Chloe yelled.

 

“They told me that they think that it is time to face facts, Chloe… and we all agree that this is what is best for everyone.”

 

“...This isn’t about Max, is it? They just want to get their precious daughter’s stuff away from the gay girl, don’t they?”

 

Joyce’s closed her eyes, inhaled, and said, “Chloe—”

 

Just as Joyce was about to finish responding to Chloe’s comment, the house phone suddenly started ringing. There was a small silence between the mother and daughter as the phone continued ringing.

 

‘Call from David Madsen’

 

“Oh great, now what’s the excuse that he’s gonna use for making us wait here for nothing,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe, go to your room,” Joyce said.

 

“What the fuck, I didn’t even get to eat my dinner,” Chloe waved her arms.

 

Joyce pointed, “Now young lady.”

 

Chloe rolled her eyes as she began to move towards the staircase as Joyce walked over to the phone. Jogging up the stairs, Chloe grabbed her doorknob when she suddenly heard her mom yell, “WHAT?”

 

“Mom,” Chloe asked.

 

No response… at least not to her. Walking back down the stairs by just a few steps,  Chloe leaned over the railing to see Joyce was holding her hand over her mouth in shock.

 

“Mom?”

 

Joyce looked at Chloe before looking away and whispering, “She… She said that. That specifically? A-And you’re sure… No, David, I’m not saying that you’re lying, I just don’t want to get her hopes up… I… Okay, what floor are you on? What room? Ok, of course we’ll be right there. What about their friend… can she come too? Okay. Okay, yes. Okay, I love you too,” Joyce said as she hung up the phone.

 

“The hell was that about,” Chloe asked.

 

“Chloe, we’re going to hospital,” Joyce said.

 

“What? Why,” Chloe asked,  chuckled, “Did David smell some weed and now he’s in the ICU or something?”

 

Joyce grabbed Chloe’s shoulders and said, “Chloe… I’m so sorry.”

 

Chloe saw the tears in her mom’s eyes and said, “Mom what is it?”

 

Suddenly, Joyce smiled and said, “Some of David’s men were on the highway and… Chloe… they found her.”

 

Chloe’s eyes widened as she said, “F-Found who?”

 

“They found Max,” Joyce said as she ran down the hallway.

 

“Mom, this isn’t funny,” Chloe said, almost disbelieving this hope.

 

“Chloe… I am not lying,” Joyce said as she grabbed her keys, “She’s at the hospital right now. Call Rachel right now and tell her to meet us at Arcadia General.”

 

Chloe pulled out her phone and quickly called Rachel.

 

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Evening

 

“Fuck me, Jefferson is gonna be the death of me… or at least my GPA,” Rachel said as she was doing a fourth re-read of her paper when she heard her phone beginning to buzz. Picking it up, she saw it was Chloe.

 

“I told you I’m busy Chloe,” Rachel mumbled to herself as she set the phone down.

 

Hearing the phone stop buzzing, Rachel was starting to read through the paper again when her phone started buzzing again.

 

Chloe.

 

Again, Rachel didn’t answer.

 

Then, suddenly, she got a text notification.

 

‘RACHEL ANSWER THE PHONE!’

 

Thinking that Chloe was in danger, Rachel picked up her phone as it began to buzz again.

 

This time, Rachel answered the phone and said, “Chloe, what’s going on? I need to finish--”

 

‘Fuck your paper! Get to the hospital, now!’

 

“What’s wrong,” Rachel asked.

 

‘Rachel, they found Max.’

 

Rachel’s eyes widened.

 

“Chloe, I am not in the mood for jokes like that,” Rachel said.

 

‘Rachel, why would I lie about this.’

 

“...You’re right,” Rachel said as she stood up and grabbed a coat and her purse, “I’ll be there in ten minutes. Okay?”

 

‘Okay.’

 

Rachel shakily hung up the phone and stared at her hands… why was she panicking? This was good. More than good. This was GREAT!

 

“Hospital… Hospital. Fast. Gotta go. Now,” Rachel said as she ran to her door and opened it to see Steph Anderson and Victoria Chase walking down the hall with boba in their hands.

 

“Whoa Rachel, where are you off to,” Steph asked.

 

“Max was found. Can’t talk. Bye,” Rachel said as she continued running out of the dormitory.

 

The two girls just stared at the direction that Rachel had run in, processing what had just happened.

 

“Wait,” Steph said as she looked at Victoria, “Did…”

 

“Did she just say what I think she said,” Victoria asked.

 

Location: Hospital

Time: Night

 

Chloe and Joyce stood in the middle of the elevator, waiting as best as they could for the elevator to reach the third floor.

 

“Come on, come on,” Chloe said impatiently.

 

“Stay calm, Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“I can’t stay calm, mom. I’m gonna have gray hair by the time this elevator gets to Max’s floor,” Chloe said before she gritted her teeth and kicked the elevator, “COME ON!”

 

“Chloe,” Joyce said sternly.

 

Suddenly, the elevator came to a halt and made the third “ding” noise it makes when reaching a new floor. As the doors slowly opened, Chloe ran out of patience and pushed herself through the hospital elevator doors and ran to the floor’s general check in desk where a nurse was looking at the computer.

 

Slamming her hands on the desk, Chloe loudly asked, “What room is Max Caulfield in?”

 

“What is your relation to Miss Caulfield?”

 

“I’m her girlfriend.”

 

“I’m sorry, only family and legal guardians are allowed to see her at the moment besides the police of course.”

 

Joyce walked up and said, “We were her legal guardians before she disappeared. Joyce Price.”

 

“Let’s see… Ah, here we are. You are approved to see her. She’s in room 309. Let me just inform the officer inside that you are coming.”

 

As soon as she heard the room number, Chloe started running down the hospital corridors until she reached 309. As she approached the door, she saw its knob turned and began to open, forcing Chloe to come to a grinding halt and saw David walking out of her room and shutting the door behind him.

 

“Let me in, David,” Chloe said.

 

David raised his hand and said, “Chloe, I’m gonna need you to listen to me very carefully.”

 

“Let me in. I need to see her,” Chloe said as she tried to move past David, but was easily stopped by him extending his arms out.

 

“Chloe, this is about her,” David said as Joyce walked up.

 

Chloe crossed her arms and said, “What is it?”

 

“I just finished speaking with her. I tried to figure out what happened to her, asked her if she remembered anything, even the smallest detail… but she says that she doesn’t remember anything.”

 

“How did they even find her,” Joyce asked.

 

“Officers Jensen and Owens were watching the highway when they saw her walking along it,” David said, “Her clothes were torn and dirty and she seemed to be in a state of shock.”

 

“Oh my god,” Chloe said as she turned around and placed a hand over her mouth. The thoughts that ran through Chloe’s head made her want to throw up.

 

“That poor girl,” Joyce said.

 

“The doctors have already run some tests on her and the results are expected to come back within one to two days. Until then, I think that what she really needs right now is some of her um… close friends… by her side and plenty of rest.”

 

Chloe looked back at David and saw him stepping over to Joyce.

 

“Go on Chloe, I’m gonna call her parents and give them this miraculous news,” Joyce said.

 

“And I have to make the announcement to the news teams outside,” David said.

 

“Thanks… and Rachel,” Chloe said.

 

David nodded and said, “I’ll let the staff know that she is allowed to visit as well. When she shows up, I’ll have them show her the way here, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Chloe said as she looked at the door.

 

As Joyce and David began walking away, Chloe looked back at them and said, “Hey David.”

 

Turning to Chloe again, David asked, “Yes?”

 

“Thank you.”

 

David smiled and nodded before continuing to walk away.

 

As Joyce and David continued walking away, Chloe looked back at the door and slowly approached it. Feeling her heart beating almost quadruple the normal speed, Chloe shakily grabbed the handle, turned it, and opened the door. As it slowly opened, Chloe saw Max was laying in the bed, seemingly asleep.

 

Just the sight of Max made Chloe start crying. Walking up to her, Chloe grabbed one of Max’s hands with both of her own and kissed the palm.

 

“Max… Can you hear me? It’s me, Chloe,” Chloe said with a shaky voice.

 

Max’s eyes slowly opened to see her lifelong friend and girlfriend from another time.

 

“Chloe…?”

 

“Yeah Max,” Chloe tearfully smiled, “It’s me.”

 

Max continued staring at Chloe before she placed a hand on Chloe’s cheek. Gently caressing Chloe’s face, Max began to tear up herself as she said, “I missed you so much.”

 

Chloe and Max then embraced one another in for a tight hug as Chloe patted Max’s back and said, “You have no fucking clue how much we missed you, Max.”

 

“We?”

 

Hearing the door open, the two looked and saw Rachel standing in the doorway.

 

“Oh my god Max,” Rachel chuckled as she walked to the other side of Max and hugged her tightly while repeatedly kissing Max’s cheeks.

 

“Rachel Amber,” Max asked.

 

Rachel nodded and said, “It’s me, Max.”

 

‘So Rachel is alive in this reality… then that means my thoughts are true… I took her place,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“How… How long was I gone?”

 

“Max, you’ve been missing for almost half a year,” Chloe said.

 

“What,” Max asked.

 

Chloe pulled out her phone, typed something in and handed the phone to Max.

 

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE AT BLACKWELL ACADEMY

 

Two weeks ago, Blackwell security received a request to do a wellness check on Maxine Elizabeth Caulfield after not showing up to class for a few days and not responding to any notifications from her fellow students. When security entered the student’s dorm room, they were concerned to find that she was nowhere to be found. Local student at Blackwell Academy and friends to Miss Caulfield, Chloe Price and Rachel Amber, said that [Maxine] would never go anywhere without her polaroid camera and that she had no reason to run off. Maxine’s parents, Vanessa and Ryan Caulfield said that they received a short yet odd phone call from Maxine, which contained incoherent mumbling before the call was disconnected. Police Sergeant, David Madsen, is currently leading an investigation to figure out where Miss Caulfield may have gone, but with a severe lack of evidence and no real leads, he fears that the case will not last long. With the help of Chloe Price and Rachel Amber, the Arcadia Bay Police Department has set up MISSING posters around town in the hopes that someone may know where she may have gone.’

 

Scrolling down a bit, Max saw a MISSING poster similar to the ones of Rachel from her past time.

 

MISSING

MISSING FROM:

Arcadia Bay

 

DATE MISSING:

April 22nd, 2013

 

OTHER:

Age: 18 years old

Height: 5’5”

Weight: 103 lbs

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Blue

 

She is obsessed with taking pictures with a polaroid camera.

 

MAXINE ELIZABETH CAULFIELD

Age 18



Even though she expected this to be the case, actually seeing it made Max feel sick to her stomach. Slowly setting the phone down, Max slowly looked around and said, “Chloe… B-Bucket…”

 

Chloe looked around and saw a trash can. Running over and grabbing it, Chloe brought the can back to Max, who quickly took it and threw up in it.

 

“Yeah, I’d probably throw up too,” Rachel said as she patted Max’s back.

 

“What… What day is it,” Max asked.

 

“It’s the ninth of October,” Chloe said.

 

‘The ninth… okay… that gives me four days until the storm hits,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“So where were you,” Rachel asked.

 

Setting the trash can down, Max sighed, “I don’t remember. Everything is… kind of a blur.”

 

“What was the last thing you remember?”

 

“I…”

 

As Max looked past both Chloe and Rachel, her thought process was interrupted when she saw a vision of Mark Jefferson standing at the foot of her bed, making a frame with his hands as blood pooled down the bullet hole in his head.

 

‘I must say Max, I do love your acting here. Perhaps we can try the ‘Dead Girl’ pose again.’

 

Chloe and Rachel saw Max’s face shift to something that looked like shock and horror before they heard Max’s heart rate monitor shoot up and started beeping.

 

“Max,” Chloe asked as she placed a hand on Max’s shoulder.

 

Max looked towards the sudden physical touch on her shoulder and saw Mark Jefferson was right next to her and had his hand on her shoulder.

 

‘How about we figure out how to raise that grade a point or two…’

 

Rachel watched as Max pushed Chloe away from her and yelled, “GET AWAY FROM ME!”

 

“Max,” Chloe asked.

 

Max curled up into a ball and began crying, mumbling, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”

 

Before either Rachel or Chloe could get a word out, a pair of nurses ran in. One of them said, “I’m sorry, but the two of you need to leave now.”

 

“What’s going on,” Chloe asked.

 

“Please, we’re going to need you to leave,” The nurse said.

 

“Wait, but I—”

 

Rachel walked up and placed a hand on Chloe’s shoulder and asked the nurse, “Can we come back tomorrow?”

 

“If Miss Caulfield is up for visitors,” The other nurse said.

 

“Okay, come on Chloe. Let the nurses do their jobs,” Rachel said as she began walking away.

 

“We love you Max,” Chloe yelled before walking out with Rachel.

 

Now in the hallway, the two looked at one another.

 

“What was that about,” Chloe asked.

 

“I don’t know… maybe she was hallucinating something,” Rachel said.

 

“You think it may be something to do with what happened to her,” Chloe asked as she looked back towards Max’s room.

 

“I don’t know… Maybe. But whatever happened to her… she’ll always have us,” Rachel said as she held Chloe’s hand.

 

Chloe slowly nodded her head as she began to feel tears coming down her cheek. 

 

“Hey,” Rachel said as she stood in front of Chloe and wiped a tear away, “What’s with the tears?”

 

Chloe looked at Rachel and gave a big smile and said, “I’m happy, Rach… Max is back…”

 

Rachel smiled and repeated what Chloe said, “Max is back… Hey, we should see what Max told David. Maybe that can help us when we see her tomorrow.”

 

“Okay… yeah,” Chloe said as she pulled out her phone and went to the live broadcast.

 

Location: Boys Dorm Room

Time: Night

 

Nathan Prescott was sitting at his desk, looking at some of his pieces on the computer when he began to see notifications blowing up on his social media. Something that he noticed immediately were titles such as ‘MAX IS ALIVE’ or ‘MAX IS BACK’.

 

“The fuck? No she isn’t,” Nathan said as he went to turn off his notifications.

 

Suddenly, he saw a notification from Victoria.

 

‘HOLY SHIT, SHE’S ALIVE.’

 

“Not you too, Vic,” Nathan said as he clicked on Victoria’s notification

 

Opening up Victoria’s page, Nathan saw that there was a link to a live broadcast of Sergeant David Madsen outside of the hospital.

 

‘…rently, Miss Caulfield appears to have no recollection of the events that occurred between the time of her disappearance and the present. She did reveal that she woke up in some sort of grave in the junkyard near the train tracks. I have sent an investigation team to see if there is any evidence of who her kidnappers are.’

 

Standing up from his chair, Nathan was beyond confused.

 

“That’s… That’s impossible,” Nathan said, “How? HOW?”

 

*Bzzzzt* *Bzzzzt*

 

Looking to his desk, Nathan picked up the phone and hesitantly answered it, “H-Hello?”

 

‘We need to talk.’

Chapter Text

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Night

 

The door to the main complex of Blackwell Academy was pulled open, sending a strong blast of cold air into the dark and empty hallways as Nathan nervously walked inside.

 

Hundreds of thoughts went through his mind as Nathan was walking through the halls of Blackwell Academy, all of them relating to Max Caulfield.

 

"What the fuck is going on? How is she even alive? I...I killed her...I buried her in that junkyard myself! HOW?'

 

But all of those thoughts paled in comparison to one question that was on his mind.

 

How was Jefferson going to punish him?

 

Seeing a light emanating in one of the classrooms, Nathan composed himself as best as he could, walked up to the door, grabbed the doorknob, and opened it to see Jefferson sitting at the desk, looking at the computer, which was playing the broadcast from the hospital.

 

"Two of my highway patrol officers found Max Caulfield wandering the highway. I will not reveal any information at this time, but...'

 

"M-Mr. Jefferson—" Nathan began to talk.

 

"Shh shh shh. I want to listen to that again," Jefferson said as he rewound the video.

 

"Two of my highway patrol officers found Max Caulfield wandering the highway.'

 

Suddenly the video paused and Jefferson looked towards Nathan and said, "So Nathan...I think that there is something that you need to explain to me."

 

"Mr. Jefferson, I—”

 

Jefferson said as he stood up, "I want you to explain to me how an overdosed girl who you buried half a year ago is suddenly spotted walking along the highway."

 

“I… I don’t…”

 

“I... I don't," Jefferson said in a mocking tone, "Shut. The fuck. Up. I didn't call you here to hear you whining. I called you here because I want you to explain to me how this happened. Because to me, it comes down to one of two options. Either you're so fucking stupid that you couldn't tell the difference between a passed out girl and a dead one. She woke up a few hours after you buried her, she got out of her little coffin, and has been wandering through the wilderness until she was found by the authorities...or she is the second coming of Christ. Which one is more believable Nathan?"

 

"..."

 

Nathan looked down as Mr. Jefferson narrowed his eyes and said, "Look at me."

 

Looking back at the teacher, Nathan saw Mr. Jefferson walk up to him, place a hand on Nathan's shoulder, and said, "Answer the question."

 

"Mr. Jefferson, I know she died. I saw her die!"

 

"Oh is that so...then is this girl just her long lost twin, Nathan? Is she just pretending to be Max?"

 

"I..."

 

Mr. Jefferson placed another hand on Nathan's shoulders before quickly grabbing him by the collar and pulling him close.

 

"Listen closely...the only reason that you're even breathing right now is because I need to know that she is not going to say anything about what happened. But, if she does remember what happened to her and she tells the authorities or the press, guess what? Your life and mine are over. And I will not be going to jail because of your fuck up."

 

"What am I supposed to do," Nathan asked.

 

"Well...we don't want to have any unnecessary attention drawn in our way," Mr. Jefferson said as he pushed Nathan away and walked back to his desk, "If she really does have no memory of the studio, then we should be fine...why don't you send her some flowers? Have a few of the students from class sign it and add something on the card about seeing her soon."

 

"I-I'll go right away," Nathan said.

 

"See that you do," Jefferson said as he sat back in his chair and continued to listen to the broadcast.

 

Nathan quickly left the classroom to go and do his task.

 

Location: Hospital

Time: Night

 

The elevator doors opened up and Nathan walked out with a vase of yellow pansies. Walking up to the service desk, one of the workers looked up and asked, "Can I help you?"

 

"Hi there," Nathan said in a friendly voice, "I was wondering what room Max Caulfield is in?"

 

"Miss Caulfield is currently sedated right now and is unable to have any visitors," The nurse said.

 

"Is everything okay?"

 

"I am not allowed to reveal any information regarding Miss Caulfield. Is there anything else?"

 

"Well, if I can't see her, can I at least deliver this to her room or leave it here," Nathan asked as he held the vase higher, "It's a Get Well gift from the school's photography class. The florist told me that these flowers mean get well or something like that."

 

The nurse looked at the vase and said, "Just leave it here and I'll deliver it before my shift is done."

 

"Thank you," Nathan said as he pulled out a card, "And this? It's from some of her friends at school."

 

"Let me read it," The nurse said as he grabbed the card and read it, "Let's see, get well soon...Can't wait to see you again...Yeah, okay."

 

"Great," Nathan said as he handed the vase to the nurse, "If she is able to, can I come and see her tomorrow?"

 

"Unfortunately, she is only allowed to be visited by the police, family, or legal guardians. I'm sorry," The nurse said.

 

"Okay, well, let me know if that changes," Nathan said.

 

Location: Price Household

Time: Morning

 

Chloe was currently laying on her bed, unable to sleep at all this  as her mind was filled with questions.

 

"How is Max right now? Is she feeling okay? Where has she been? Who took her? DID someone take her? Why did she freak out in the hospital...'

 

Hearing a buzz from her phone, Chloe almost flung herself off the bed to pick it up and read the notifications.

 

"October 8th, 2013

 

3 Unread Messages

 

"Holy shit, Chloe. Is it true that Max has no clue what happened to her? How are you and Rachel feeling?'— Steph

 

"Chloe, what time do you wanna head over to the hospital'— Rachel

 

"Chloe, I've been informed by Max's doctor that her results are going to be finished later today. Currently, she's expected to leave this evening or tomorrow morning. So if you want to come see her, I can come by and take you and Rachel'— David

 

Opening up David's text, Chloe typed back.

 

"No. After what happened in the room, I want someone I can trust to stay with Max. I can pick up Rachel and come over.'— C

 

"Alright then. I'll let you know if something comes up.'— D

 

"Don't fucking let anyone near her.'— C

 

"Yes ma'am.'— D

 

Switching to Steph's text, Chloe responded.

 

"Yes, it's true...But right now, all I care about right now is that she's back.'— C

 

"How did she react to finding out how long she was gone?'— S

 

"Well she threw up, if that helps you understand how she felt.'— C

 

"Jeez that musta been mortifying. But what's important now is that she's back. We should, like, get together.'— S

 

Chloe smirked as she replied, "Sorry Steph, two's enough for me. Plus I don't think Vic can handle either Rachel or I.'— C

 

"I meant for a D&D hangout or something you perv XP'— S

 

"Ugh, emojis...But I'll have to ask Max when she leaves, but perhaps.'— C

 

"Sounds like a future plan’ — S

 

Finally, Chloe switched over to the last text that she needed to respond to.

 

"ASAP.'— C

 

"Why don't you pick me up tomorrow, we can swing by the diner and bring her some of those pancakes she likes so much?’ — R

 

"You read my mind, didn't you?'— C

 

"My dad is the district attorney, Chloe. I quickly deduce what people can be thinking. Even over the phone.'— R

 

"Humor me and say it's cause you're psychic.'— C

 

"It's cause I'm psychic'— R

 

Chloe smiled as she set her phone down and got up to take a shower.

 

Location: Hospital

Time: Morning

 

Max was currently standing at the window of her room, looking down at the card in her hand and reading the card's messages.

 

"Max, I prayed every night for you to come home.'— Kate

 

"You have no idea how much we missed you.'— Victoria

 

But then...one note had most of her attention.

 

"We look forward to having you back in class.'— Mark Jefferson

 

"It seems as though your resurrection has earned you some popularity at school, Max. Or should I say...infamy?'

 

Max felt shivers run down her spine as she heard Jefferson's voice beside her.

 

"If only they knew the truth,'Max felt a pair of hands on her shoulders and Jefferson lean up against her ear and whisper, "You're a fraud' 

 

Before Max could say anything, she heard her door being opened. Turning toward the door, she saw a nurse poking her head in.

 

"Miss Caulfield, I expected you to be in bed," The nurse said.

 

"S-Sorry...I just needed to stretch my legs a bit."

 

"Well, I have a few people here who would like to see you. If you want, I can have them come back another time?"

 

"Who is it," Max asked.

 

"Chloe Price and Rachel Amber?"

 

Hearing those names made Max form a small smile on her face.

 

"If I could just have a few moments," Max asked.

 

"Of course," The nurse said as she shut the door.

 

Walking back over to her bed, Max set the letter down on her bedside table and got into the bed.

 

"Okay," Max sighed.

 

As the nurse opened the door, Max watched as Chloe and Rachel walked in with big bags in their hands and even bigger smiles on their faces. Just seeing Chloe and Rachel...together and happy...to Max, it felt as though she won and lost. Won because Rachel is alive and lost because this likely meant that Chloe and Rachel were together...leaving Max alone, which she was fine with.

 

"Just ring if you need anything, Miss Caulfield," The nurse said as she walked out of the room.

 

"Hey Max," Chloe said as she lifted a bag of Two Whales Diner Take-Out, "Brought you some breakfast."

 

Just seeing the Two Whales Diner logo caused Max to feel her stomach practically scream in agony for the food.

 

"We figured you couldn't stomach the crap they have here, so we brought you some of the diner's best pancakes," Chloe said as she set the bag in Max's lap.

 

"Thank you," Max said as she began to take the food out.

 

Leaning in, Chloe kissed Max on the cheek and said, "No problem."

 

‘Okay...so Chloe is dating me? I guess that Rachel is our friend then,’ Max thought to herself, still trying to understand what is going on.

 

"Hey Max, who are the flowers from," Rachel asked.

 

"The photography class," Max said as she took a bite from a pancake, "A nurse last night said that someone came and dropped them off for me."

 

“Well, they look nice," Rachel said, "Huh...Yellow Pansies. They know their flowers."

 

"I guess? I don't know my flowers too well," Max said as she continued eating her food.

 

"Oh and there's a note," Rachel said as she grabbed the note and began to read it, “Oooh, you got a note from Mr. Jefferson? Victoria is going to be jealouuuusss.”

 

After hearing Rachel say Jefferson’s name, Max saw Jefferson standing between Chloe and Rachel, his hands on their heads as he stared at Max and said, ‘Oh what I would give to see you all in the Dark Room...'

 

Hearing Max’s heart rate going up on the monitor, both Chloe and Rachel looked at Max and saw the way that she was staring at them, which prompted Rachel to ask, "Max?"

 

Seeing a tear fall down Max’s cheek, Chloe then called Max’s name louder, which seemed to catch Max’s attention.

 

Looking towards the two, Max mumbled, "W-What?"

 

"You okay," Rachel asked.

 

Looking back towards Jefferson, Max saw that he was gone. Sighing, Max said, "Y-Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry…”

 

As Max wiped her eyes, Rachel whispered something to Chloe, who nodded and asked, "So Max, what do you wanna do when you get out of here?"

 

“Well, I suppose I need to call my parents and let them know I'm okay."

 

Chloe’s expression shifted from concern to annoyance as she crossed her arms and said, ”Actually, they're already on their way to Arcadia.”

 

“Wait really,” Max asked.

 

“Yeah. Jackasses were coming to take your stuff,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe,” Rachel said sternly, “Not now.”

 

Chloe just rolled her eyes and walked towards the window as Rachel looked at Max and asked, "Which makes me want to ask, Max...do you plan on telling them about…us?”

 

Now Max was very confused, releasing a quick, “What?”

 

“You know… the three of us? Dating,” Rachel asked.

 

Max could feel her brain mentally explode when she heard that. She was dating Chloe… AND Rachel?!

 

“O-Oh,” Max said as she looked down at her pancakes and said, “Um… maybe. I don't know…  Right now, I just want things to go back to the way things were… If that's even possible.”

 

"Everything goes back to normal over time, Max," Rachel said as she leaned towards Max and held her hand, "But if you think that you need some more time to tell them, we'll be there when you're ready."

 

"Always," Chloe turned around with a smile, "In the meantime, I know something that can help us pass the time even faster."

 

"Chloe, we're in a hospital," Rachel said as she rolled her eyes.

 

"I was talking about our company idea! Jesus! First Steph, now one of my girlfriends," Chloe said.

 

‘Wait a minute, what company,’ Max thought to herself.

 

Before Max could ask that question, the door opened and the three saw a doctor and David walk in.

 

"Ah Miss Caulfield, one of the nurses told me that you had company. How are you ladies?"

 

"Good," Chloe said.

 

"Definitely better now that Max is back," Rachel said.

 

"I can imagine," The doctor said, "And Miss Caulfield, how are you?"

 

"I'm ready to get out of here," Max said.

 

"Well, I have some news regarding that," The doctor said as he held up a file, "Your physical test results came back this morning."

 

"And," Chloe asked.

 

"Miss Caulfield, if you would like, we can discuss the results in private," The doctor said.

 

"No, they can stay," Max said.

 

"Very well," The doctor said as he opened up the file, "Your health appears to be as well as can be expected. The only concern is your weight. You've lost about eight pounds since you last came in and this puts you in the malnourished category. Just eat a few extra items every few days and you should be fine."

 

"What about what happened the other day," Chloe asked.

 

"We believe that it is likely a hallucination that manifested from PTSD. I have spoken with Sergeant Madsen and Mrs. Price to record any more incidents in the future. I would also like to schedule a check-in in a few days to see how you are doing, but until then, I believe that Miss Caulfield can leave the hospital if she is kept a close eye on," The doctor said as he turned to David, "Sergeant Madsen, I believe that the rest of the news is for you to announce.”

 

As the doctor proceeded out of the hospital room, Chloe was quick to speak.

 

"You get to come home, Max," Chloe smiled as she kissed Max on the cheek, "Isn't that great?"

 

Max looked at Chloe and Rachel and nodded, "Yeah, it is."

 

Max watched as Chloe and Rachel started laughing and talking with one another, but that little voice in Max's mind kept repeating the same thought.

 

‘This isn't my home though…’

 

 

Chapter Text

Location: Hospital

Time: Morning

 

Chloe was leaning against Max’s hospital window, texting with Rachel.

 

‘Hey, how’s the clothing scavenger hunt going?’ — C

 

‘Just about done. I have one of my jackets, some fresh underwear, jeans, and shirt. How is she?’ — R

 

‘She’s okay I think. She’s in the bathroom right now.’ — C

 

Inside of the bathroom, Max was standing in front of the mirror, staring at herself. She was still wearing her hospital issued gown and some undergarments that were also provided by the hospital. In Max’s hands… was the letter by the students at Blackwell. The one note she could not stop looking at… was his.

 

We look forward to having you back in class.'— Mark Jefferson

 

‘If I was put in Rachel’s grave… then that must mean that Nathan and Jefferson killed me. I mean… the same date of missing, location where I was buried? That can’t just be a coincidence… But last time I changed fate to this degree… everyone’s personalities changed, including my own,’ Max thought back to that alternate reality.

 

Hearing a knock on the door, Max turned to hear Chloe ask, “Hey Max? You didn’t fall in there or something right?”


“I’m okay… Just preparing for outside,” Max said as she turned on the water to sound like she was doing stuff.

 

“No problem. Take your time,” Chloe said as she walked away from the door.

 

As Max heard Chloe walking away, Max turned off the water and sighed.

 

She had to make a choice… 

 

 

Location: Hospital Room

Time: Morning

 

Max walked out of the bathroom to see Chloe sitting on the hospital bed, texting on her phone.

 

“Are you enjoying my bed,” Max asked.

 

“It’s okay. Definitely missing something to help influence my opinion on it,” Chloe smirked.

 

Max rolled her eyes and walked over to sit next to Chloe, who quickly lifted her head and placed it on Max’s lap.

 

“Any update on Rachel,” Max asked.

 

“She just finished grabbing some clothes for you from her dorm room,” Chloe said.

 

*Bzzzzt*

 

“That’s her now,” Chloe said as she looked at her phone, “She says she’s on her way back and that we should be prepared for a bunch of reporters outside.”

 

“Oh God,” Max said nervously as she looked towards the window.

 

Standing up from her hospital bed, Max walked up to the window and looked out to see that there were reporters and cameras outside alongside a cluster of people. But then, Max saw something else.

 

“Jesus,” Chloe said as she walked up and saw everyone outside, “The only time this many reporters come out around here is when the sun comes out a minute later than expected or some boring shit, right?”

 

“…”

 

Hearing no response to her amazing joke, Chloe looked towards Max and saw that she was having another moment like she had earlier. Unbeknownst to Chloe, Max was staring down into the crowd, slowly shaking, her eyes quickly shaking, and her breath was quick.

 

“Max,” Chloe asked.

 

As Chloe was trying to get Max’s attention, Max’s focus was solely on one person that she saw in the crowd.

Mark Jefferson.

 

He was among a group of teachers, students, and Principal Wells as they stood behind the cluster of reporters.

 

‘Max…’

 

Looking to her right, Max saw Jefferson standing next to her. The same Jefferson that David killed in the Dark Room.

 

‘It’s okay. You have me.’

 

Max tried to push “Jefferson” and said, “Get away!”

 

But “Jefferson” grabbed Max’s arms and said, ‘Max! Max, it’s me!’

 

As Max began crying, wondering where Chloe was, she felt this vision wrap its arms around her in a way that was very familiar to her as she heard the muffled voice of Chloe getting louder.

 

‘It’s okay Max… I’m here. I’m right here Max.”

 

Max leaned her head back to stare at the vision of Jefferson’s face and saw it slowly get revert back to the face of Chloe Price.

 

“Chloe,” Max asked.

 

“It’s me… it’s okay,” Chloe smiled.

 

Max placed her head on Chloe’s shoulder and began sobbing as she said again, “Chloe…”

 

“It’s okay… I’m here,” Chloe said as she began to stroke Max’s hair.

 

The door burst open and David ran in, hand on his taser, and asked, “What’s going on in here?”

 

“We’re fine,” Chloe glared at him as she felt Max tense up, “Can you give us a bit of privacy?”

David lowered his hand and nodded, “Okay… Sorry.”

 

As he left the room, Chloe placed her chin on top of Max’s head and said, “Hey Max… you still with me?”

 

“Always Chloe… Always,” Max said.

 

One Hour Later

 

Max was in the bathroom again, putting Rachel's red jacket on as a final touch to her new attire. Looking at herself in the mirror, Max thought to herself, ‘Three days Max… you have three days until the storm… all that matters is saving as many people as you can.’

 

Stepping out into the main room, Max saw Chloe and Rachel sitting on the bed, Rachel holding her phone up and saying, “And here comes our beautiful badass, Max Caulfield, who looks like she’s trying to cosplay some beautiful young rebel.”

 

“These are your clothes,” Max said.

 

“Who do you think I’m referring to when I say beautiful young rebel,” Rachel smiled as she looked over to Chloe, “Chloe, what do you think of our dearest Max’s new attire?”

 

Chloe smiled as she said, “I don’t know. She’s giving me vibes that say ‘I’m a biker girl who has never seen a bike before.’”

 

Max rolled her eyes as Rachel stood up and walked over to her.

 

“Oh Max, you know that we’re just messing with you,” Rachel said as she wrapped her arm around Max’s neck, “In fact, I think that Max here is one of the toughest, baddest bitches I know. And I love you for it.”

 

Rachel leaned in and kissed Max’s cheek, which immediately turned Max’s cheeks bright red.

 

“And what about me,” Chloe asked.

 

Turning the phone towards Chloe, Rachel said, “And Chloe Price is just as bad and tough as Max. And I love her just as much.”

 

Chloe and Rachel were laughing while Max was just smiling before they heard a knock on the door.

 

“Excuse me, Miss Caulfield? We’re here to transport you out of the hospital.”

 

“Okay come in,” Max said.

 

The door opened and a nurse came in with a wheelchair. Behind the nurse was the doctor and David.

 

“How are you feeling today, Miss Caulfield,” He asked.

 

“I’ve had a few hallucinations, but other than that, I’ve been okay.”

“I see. Well, if you are still having these hallucinations by the next time I see you, we may need to consider some medication,” The doctor said as he looked at the others, “I trust that the three of you will be keeping an eye on Miss Caulfield?”

 

“As if my life depended on it,” Chloe said.

 

“Ditto,” Rachel said.

 

“You have some very good friends, Miss Caulfield,” The doctor smiled.

 

Max noticed Rachel and Chloe’s smiles quickly vanish as the doctor said, “Well, I have some other matters to attend to. Good day, Miss Caulfield.”

 

As the doctor walked away, the nurse said, “It’s mandatory that the patient must leave the building in a wheelchair.”

 

“Alright Max, getting the VIP treatment today,” Chloe said as Max sat down in the wheelchair.

 

Max smiled as the nurse began to roll her out of the hospital.

 

Location: Outside of the Hospital

Time: Morning

 

“You sure you want to do this,” David asked.

 

“Yes,” Max said.

 

“We’re right behind you Max,” Rachel said as she placed a hand on Max’s shoulder.

 

“Always… Just know that if anyone lays a hand on you, I break the hand,” Chloe said.

 

David sighed, “Chloe—”

 

“What,” Chloe asked.

 

“Are we all ready,” The nurse asked.

 

“Yes,” Max said.

 

The doors to the hospital opened and instantly, Max was assaulted by a barrage of camera flashes and multiple, “MISS CAULFIELD! MISS CAULFIELD!”

 

David stepped in front of Max and said, “Max has agreed to answer a few questions.”

 

Max slowly stood up from her wheelchair and said, “Um… Hello.”

 

Again, she heard her name being called multiple times. Looking around the cluster of reporters, Max pointed at a random one and said, “Y-Yes?”

 

“Miss Caulfield. How did it feel to learn that you have been missing for six months?”

 

“It felt… unreal, you know? Even now, I feel like this is some dream. Who wouldn’t I guess,” Max said.

 

“MISS CAULFIELD! MISS CAULFIELD!”

 

“Yes,” Max pointed again.

 

“Miss Caulfield, can you recall anything that happened before your disappearance?”

 

‘Think Max,’ Max thought to herself, ‘Wait… the newspaper Chloe showed me…’

 

“I just remember being in my bed trying to go to sleep. I thought I heard a noise in my room, but before I could react, I felt something go in my neck and everything went dark,” Max said.

 

“Miss Caulfield, do you know who may have done this,” One of the reporters suddenly asked.

 

Max’s eyes shifted towards Mark Jefferson, who seemed to be watching and listening closely. 

 

“I… uh…”

 

The look on his face was something on the lines of “Don’t you fucking say it.”

 

Turning around to face Rachel and Chloe, she saw the smiles on their faces. Closing her eyes, images of Chloe and Rachel being killed flashed in Max’s mind… how many Rachels and Chloes and Kates and Maxs have died… because of him.

 

“Miss Caulfield?”

 

Turning towards the reporters, Max opened her eyes and said, “Y-Yes?”

 

“Do you know who kidnapped you?”

 

“…Yes.”

 

There were audible gasps alongside another barrage of camera flashes as the reporter asked, “Miss Caulfield, who kidnapped you?”

 

Looking towards Jefferson, Max saw how nervous he seemed to be, glaring at her as if saying ‘Don’t you fucking dare…’

Confirming her suspicion, Max pointed at the crowd and said, “It was Mark Jefferson.”

 

Rachel and Chloe’s eyes were saucers as the reporters turned their cameras around to see Mark Jefferson being distanced by his fellow faculty and students.

 

“What,” Jefferson chuckled, “That’s absurd.”

 

“Mr. Jefferson had me drugged in my room. When I woke up, I was being dragged across the floor of a barn and into this place… it was like a photography studio. That’s where Mr. Jefferson was waiting. He took pictures of me… doing various things while I was unable to move. I don’t know how long they kept me locked there… but one night, I found myself buried in the junkyard near the train tracks.”

 

“WHAT,” Chloe yelled.

 

“Miss Caulfield, earlier you said that you had no memory of who had kidnapped you. Why lie and say you didn’t remember anything,” One of the reporters asked.

 

“Because… Jefferson threatened to kill some of my closest friends if I ever spoke out,” Max said.

 

“This is ridiculous. You will be hearing from my lawyers, Max,” Jefferson said as he began to walk away.

 

“Officers Barry and Monty, please detain Mark Jefferson and Nathan Prescott and have them brought in for questioning,” David said. 

 

The two officers walked up and grabbed Jefferson’s arms.

 

“This is absurd. You don’t have any evidence,” Jefferson looked at Max and yelled, “You petty fucking bitch! You are gonna pay for this, you hear me?”

 

As Jefferson was taken away, David walked up and said, “I think that’s all the time we have for today.”

 

“WAIT! MISS CAULFIELD! MISS CAULFIELD!”

 

Max, Rachel, and Chloe followed David into his car before they drove off from the hospital.

 

Location: The Way to the Price Residence

Time: Morning

 

Chloe was sitting in the front seat of the car as Max and Rachel sat in the back while David was driving.

 

“Max… why didn’t you tell us,” Rachel asked.

 

“…I didn’t want you to get hurt on my account,” Max said.

 

“And you thought that we wanted you to get hurt for us,” Chloe asked angrily.

 

“Max,” Rachel said as she placed a hand on Max’s shoulder, “I would take a bullet for either of you. You know why?”

 

Max looked at Rachel as she cupped Max’s cheek, “I love you… both of you.”

 

“Same here. If I had to cut off my arm for one of you, I’d cut it off in a second,” Chloe said, “Plus, I hear that prosthetic arms are the new badass thing."

 

“Can you girls use less graphic examples,” David asked.

 

“… So what’s gonna happen now,” Max asked.

 

“Well, we’re gonna need you to give a statement. We can do that when we get back to the house, so no need to bring you into the station. Next, we just have to prepare for the storm that’s coming.”

 

“The storm,” Max asked.

 

“Well Max, you just accused a famous photographer who is friends with the richest man in the town of being a kidnapper and attempted murderer. There’s bound to be a shit storm the size of Arcadia on its way cause of that,” David said.

 

“Well… maybe after I give my statement, we can go somewhere to avoid when the shit storm hits,” Max said.

 

“I wouldn’t mind that,” Chloe said.

 

“Well, shit storm or no shit storm, this has been one wild week,” Rachel said.

 

“You can say that again,” Chloe said.

Chapter Text

Location: The Price Residence

Time: Morning

 

The car pulled into the garage of the house before David shut off the engine.

 

“Well, we’re home,” David said.

 

“Alright bitches, let’s go,” Chloe smiled.

 

“Actually Chloe,” David said, “I need to have a chat with Max in private. Why don’t you and Rachel get her room ready for her?”

 

Chloe looked at Max and asked, “You gonna be okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Max smiled.

 

“Okay… Come on, Rach.”

 

As Rachel and Chloe walked inside, David adjusted his mirror to look at Max and asked, “How are you feeling?”

 

“Honestly… like I’m gonna be sick,” Max said.

 

“Well… what you did took a lotta guts. I respect that,” David said, “Look… I know that you’ve been through a lot these last few months. But… at some point today, I’d like to get your statement. We can do it now or later. Your choice.”

 

‘Telling David now would be the best thing to do… but you would have to think on the spot Max… but I would prefer to take the bitter pill before some time with Chloe and Rachel…’

 

“Max,” David asked.

 

“Sorry… Um, I guess we should get it out of the way,” Max said.

 

David nodded as the two got out of the car.

 

The two walked over to the workstation, where David grabbed a tape recorder and a video camera. Walking into the kitchen, the two saw Chloe and Rachel waiting at the staircase when they saw Max and David.

 

“Yo, what’s going on,” Chloe asked.

 

“Max is giving her statement and retelling of the events that occurred between the night of her disappearance and the night that she was found,” David said as he looked to Max, “Max, why don’t you sit over at the dining table.”

 

“Can we stay for, like, moral support,” Chloe asked.

 

“Unfortunately, you cannot,” David said.

 

“It’s okay, Chloe,” Max said as she sat down at the table, “I’ll be okay.”

 

Chloe and Rachel walked up to Max, Chloe giving Max a peck on the cheek and Rachel hugging Max tightly before saying, “We’ll be upstairs waiting for you.”

 

Max nodded as the two broke the embrace and the other girls walked upstairs. When they were gone, David set up the camera and said, “Are you ready?”

 

Max nodded and David pressed record on both the video camera and his recorder.

 

“Do you swear that what you are about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God,” David asked.

 

“I do,” Max nodded.

 

‘Sorry God,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Please state your name for the record.”

 

“My name is Maxine Elizabeth Caulfield.”

 

“Do you know what day it is,” David asked.

 

“It’s October 8th, 2013.”

 

“And do you recall the day that you disappeared,” David asked.

 

“April 22nd according to a Missing Persons poster that I was shown,” Max said.

 

“Alright, now… please describe the events as best as you can remember from the beginning,” David said.

 

‘Okay Max… time to think…’

 

“I remember being in my room asleep when I heard this strange noise. As I slowly began to wake up, I saw this figure standing over me. Before I could even react, he placed something over my mouth and injected me with some drug. I don’t know what it was, but it knocked me out almost instantly.”

 

“Was this Mr. Jefferson,” David asked.

 

“No… I… It sounded like Nathan Prescott.  When I came to, I remember seeing a barn and a mill. It looked pretty run down too, I don’t know if that would help… but I remember feeling myself being dragged down a set of stairs where I was introduced to something they called… The Dark Room,” Max’s eyes widened.

“Nathan Prescott drugged you?”

 

“I saw him in the Dark Room at times,” Max said.

 

“I see… so why would Nathan Prescott and Mark Jefferson both want to kidnap you?”

 

“I don’t think Nathan wanted to. I think that he was manipulated by Mr. Jefferson.”

 

“Can you elaborate?”

 

“When I was down… there, Nathan did almost everything that Jefferson told him to do. Some of the things… even he didn’t seem comfortable doing.”

 

“I understand that this is going to be painful for you to say, but… can you explain what they did?”

 

Closing her eyes, Max said, “They kept me down there for… almost six months, I suppose. They had me bound… drugged me… kept taking photos of me in different positions.”

 

“Do you know why they did this?”

 

“I remember asking Mark Jefferson, and he said that… he said that it had to do with capturing my innocence in a picture. He was sick… IS sick,” Max said as she began to feel her voice shake.

 

“I understand that you’re hurting right now Max… and we’re almost done. I just need you to explain what happened before my officers found you on the highway.”

 

“Mark Jefferson said that he had run out of ideas for me, which meant that I had outlived my usefulness… and told Nathan Prescott to give me a lethal dose of whatever drug they had been using on me. I don’t know if he did it intentionally or not, but the dose was just enough to make me pass out again. When I woke up… I was in some coffin, buried under the junkyard.”

 

“Miss Caulfield, would you feel comfortable retelling this story in a court of law?”

 

“If it would help put that monster, Mark Jefferson away… then yes,” Max said.

 

David nodded and said, “I would like to speak on behalf of Arcadia Bay when I say you should have let me die.’

 

Looking towards David, Max saw a decomposing corpse of Max staring at her.

 

‘You fucking thief…’

 

“…What?”

 

“I asked if you were okay,” David asked.

 

“Y-Yes,” Max said as she stood up and began to walk away.

 

“You had a hallucination, didn’t you?”

 

Max stopped dead in her tracks as she turned to look at David.

 

“Yes,” Max said.

 

“Back when I was in the military, my buddy… Becker… he was killed by an IED. For weeks, I would see him wherever I went. Sometimes, I would hear him too… his laugh, his crap jokes… but before I could say a word… he would vanish, and the realization would hit me all over again.”

 

“…What did you do to help treat it,” Max asked.

 

David looked at Max and said, “Well… I found myself people who will always be there to help me. Having others who will help you no matter what, Max…”

 

David blinked a few times before wiping his eyes and said, “Well… I think that’s enough of that. You did good today, Max,” David said as he grabbed the recorder and video camera, “I better go and deliver this to my officers at the precinct.”

 

Max nodded and proceeded towards the stairs.

 

“Max,” David said.

 

Turning to face David, Max asked, “Yeah?”

 

“Look, I know that things between you three and your parents are a bit… complicated. But I think that you should call your parents and let them know that you are safe and sound. I know they’re already coming down… but I think that a phone call couldn’t hurt,” David said.

 

‘Complicated,’ Max thought to herself, ‘Well… I can’t ask David what he means. That would be suspicious…’

 

“Yeah, that does make sense,” Max said as looked towards the Price family phone, “Do you mind if I…”

 

“Already gone,” David said as he walked out into the garage.

 

Max walked up to the phone and dialed one of her parents’ phones. After one ring, the phone answered.

 

‘Hello?’

 

“H-Hey Mom.”

 

‘Oh my god, Max,’ Vanessa gasped.

 

Max could hear her mom and dad laughing in joy before Vanessa quickly asked, ‘How are you?’

 

“Like I entered some weird reality,” Max said, “Mom… Dad… I’m sorry I had you two worried…”

 

‘Max, you have nothing to be sorry for. It was that bastard Mark Jefferson,’ Ryan said.

 

‘Max, you have no idea how happy we are to hear your voice,’ Vanessa said.

 

“It’s nice to hear your voice too mom,” Max smiled, “David said that the two of you were coming down?”

 

‘Yes ma’am,’ Ryan chuckled, ‘We should be there by tomorrow afternoon. I assume you’re with the Prices again?’

 

“Yeah. Chloe and Rachel have been practically stuck to me ever since I woke up in the hospital,” Max chuckled.

 

‘Well, just be careful. Don’t want anyone to get the wrong implication,’ Vanessa said.

 

That comment confused Max as Ryan said, ‘Oh she knows that… Anyways, like I said, we should be down there by tomorrow at the latest, okay?’

 

“Y-Yeah, that sounds good,” Max said, “See you then.”

 

As she hung up the phone, Max thought to herself, ‘What was that about…’

 

Shaking her head of any possible assumptions, Max assumed that it was nothing. Heading upstairs, Max heard muffled voices coming from Chloe’s room.

 

“Shh I hear her coming,” Rachel said.

 

“Are you ready,” Chloe asked.

 

“Chloe,” Rachel said.

 

“Sorry, I’m just nervous,” Chloe said.

 

Getting to the top of the staircase, Max stood in front of the door, feeling her breath was shaking and her heart was racing. Grabbing the doorknob, Max opened the door to see Rachel and Chloe jump in front of her and yell, “AAAAAARGH!”

Max’s eyes widened at what she saw… Chloe and Rachel were wearing pirate costumes… or well, wearing eye patches and very small pirate hats. The sight caused Max to start laughing almost hysterically as Rachel and Chloe started laughing as well.

 

“Are these our pirate costumes from when we were little Chloe,” Max asked.

 

“Yup,” Chloe smiled as she took off her hat, “And what be of you, ey Long Max Silver? Will you be my er… do pirates have two first mates?”

 

“Well these pirates do,” Rachel said as she made a very funny ‘ARGH’.

 

“Right you be, Devil Charm Amber,” Chloe returned to her character and placed the hat on Max’s head, “Will you be my second first mate?”

 

Max smiled, closed one of her eyes, and formed a hook with her finger, “Always, Captain Bluebeard. Argh!”

 

“ARGH Ha ha ha,” Chloe bellowed as she wrapped her arm around Max and Rachel, “Then let us set sail and head off into the unknown together!”

 

Chloe then ran to her bed and hopped onto it and yelled, “We will sack this Arcadia Cove and take with us what is ours! None shall stop the Golden Trio!”

 

“She was rehearsing this part while you were downstairs,” Rachel chuckled.

 

“I can tell,” Max smiled.

 

“Guys, come on,” Chloe broke character as she jumped up and down on her bed, “We have a city to sack.”

 

“Right behind you Captain,” Rachel said as she got onto the bed.

 

As Max was about to speak she heard a voice say, ‘How long will you lie to them…’

 

Turning around, Max saw a decaying Max standing there… the Max from this universe.

 

‘How long will you keep this lie going?’

 

“Max, you okay,” Chloe asked.

 

Turning back Chloe and Rachel, Max nodded, “Y-Yes, I be fine. Let’s set sail!”

 

Max jumped onto the bed and the three continued playing pirates. Meanwhile, outside, a bird flew up to the window outside, stumbled a bit before falling over… dead.

Chapter Text

“What be the bounty, me two first mates,” Chloe asked as she sat at the edge of her bed.

 

Rachel and Max stood a few feet in front of Chloe with Max holding their “treasure” behind her back.

 

“We managed to find quite a few items, Captain Bluehair,” Rachel said.

 

Max leaned over to Rachel and whispered, “Bluebeard.”

 

“Captain Bluebeard,” Rachel quickly corrected herself.

 

“In a city as small and insignificant as Arcadia,” Chloe bellowed, “I doubt it.”

 

“Even the smallest places can hide surprising treasures,” Rachel said as she placed a hand around Max’s waist.

 

“Save your lovey dove talk for our hammocks, you two,” Chloe smirked, “Present your tributes to your captain.”

 

“You be up, Long Max Silver,” Rachel said.

 

Max walked up, hands still hidden, and said, “We present to you… this!”

 

Max showed her hands to reveal a box.

 

“Ooh, be it shiny gold,” Chloe asked as she grabbed the box.

 

Chloe was giddy as she opened the container, only to be confused at what she saw.

 

“There… There be nothing in here,” Chloe asked.

 

“Uh… Rach, what happened to the candy,” Max asked.

 

“We’ve been talking, Long Max Silver and I,” Rachel said as she walked up beside Max.

 

“We did?”

 

Rachel bumped Max’s shoulder, which prompted Max to say, “A-Aye, we did.”

 

“Aye… And we think you are no longer fit to serve as our captain.”

 

Chloe’s eyes widened as she stood up on her bed and said, “T-This be a mutiny.”

 

“Aye, it do be a mutiny,” Rachel said as she suddenly leapt up and tackled Chloe.

 

Chloe let out a yelp and yelled, “RACHEL” as she was tackled onto her bed.

 

As the two landed on the mattress, Max heard the two of them laughing as Rachel turned to Max and said, “Long Max Silver, I need your assistance.”

Max joined in on the tussle as she quickly hopped in and grabbed one of Chloe’s arms while Rachel grabbed the other one. Chloe was laughing hysterically as Rachel and Max were holding her down.

 

“Noooooo, this cannot be the end of Captain Bluebeard,” Chloe said dramatically.

 

“Oh but it is, my lovely captain,” Rachel said.

 

Max started laughing as she looked at Rachel. But as she looked back at Chloe, she saw that she was dead… her eyes clouded and a stab wound right in the center of her chest. 

 

Max’s eyes widened as she let go of Chloe’s arm, nervously asking, “C-Chloe?”

 

Chloe’s corpse turned to Max and said, ‘Just let me die…’

 

Looking towards Rachel, Max saw Rachel’s body had blackened and turned rotten.

 

‘You won’t let us die…’

 

Rachel and Chloe watched Max gasp as she fell off the side of the bed and backed into Chloe’s closet, which prompted the other two to quickly drop character.

 

“Max,” Rachel said.

 

Max closed her eyes and started muttering, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I’m sorry…”

 

Chloe and Rachel then heard Max begin sobbing as she tightly wrapped her arms around her legs. Looking at one another, Rachel gestured her head for Chloe to help Max.

 

Without saying another word, Chloe slowly move towards Max.

 

“Hey Max,” Chloe said.

 

 “I’m sorry…I’m sorry…”

 

“I know you are, Max… I know,” Chloe said as she placed a hand on Max’s shoulder.

 

Seeing no reaction from Max, Chloe placed another hand on Max’s other shoulder and slowly embraced Max in an awkwardly angled hug.

 

“Shh shh shh… It’s okay, both of us are here Max. Rachel and I are both here,” Chloe said.

 

Chloe looked at Rachel and gestured her to come over. Rachel slowly sat beside the two and slowly joined the hug.

 

“We’re both here, Max. Chloe and I are both here and we aren’t going anywhere Max,” Rachel said.

 

After a few moments, the two felt Max wrap her arms around them.

 

“Hey Max,” Chloe said.

 

“Guys…”

 

“It’s okay,” Rachel said.

 

The three broke their embrace and sat there on the side of the bed as Max sighed, “I’m sorry, I… just had a bad vision.”

 

“What was it,” Chloe asked.

 

Max looked down and said nothing. 

 

“It’s okay,” Rachel said, “You can tell us whenever you feel comfortable.”

 

Chloe nodded, “Yeah.”

 

“Thanks,” Max nodded as she wiped her eyes.

 

“Come on up Maxie. Off the disgusting floor,” Rachel said as she helped Max up and sat her back on the bed.

 

“Hey,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe, when was the last time you actually cleaned the floor,” Rachel asked.

 

“Last week…”

 

Rachel stared at Chloe until Chloe finished her sentence, “Last week… two years ago.”

 

Hearing a light chuckle, the two looked at Max, who was looking at the two.

 

“You two always knew how to make me smile…”

 

“I be glad Long Max Silver. But… I think that we should we put our little mutiny on hold for the time being,” Rachel said as she took Max’s hat off.

 

“Yeah, besides I think Captain Bluebeard needs to figure her shit out after that devastating betrayal,” Chloe said as she stood up and took off her little pirate accessories.

 

“You know what we can do though,” Rachel asked.

 

“What,” Chloe asked.

 

“Show her how much we’ve done with the company idea,” Rachel said.

 

“Oh yeah,” Chloe said as she quickly moved to her desk.

 

“Right… the company,” Max said.

 

‘At least I get to learn more about this,’ Max asked herself.

 

Chloe grabbed a notebook and handed it to Max. Opening it up, Max saw a bunch of designs, all with the same title.

 

“RCM Studios,” Max said in a questioning tone.

 

“Rachel thought of it a few months ago. It stands for all our names,” Chloe said.

 

“Feels so… formal,” Max said.

 

“Well, we’re gonna need to be a bit formal for the business that we’re starting,” Rachel said.

 

“Yeah, I hate it,” Chloe said.

 

Turning the page, Max saw some pictures of Rachel wearing alternate outfits in alternate poses.

 

‘It looks like we are gonna be a designer studio?’

 

“Those are some practice shots that we took while you were um… well…”

 

Max looked up to see Chloe looking towards the ground. Taking the hint, Max turned the page again and saw… Victoria?

 

“What’s Victoria doing here,” Max asked.

 

“Oh, Victoria offered to be one of our part time models,” Chloe said, “Rachel took the pictures.”

 

“They’re not as good as your photos, but I think they came out okay,” Rachel said.

 

“No these are good, Rach,” Max said.

 

“Keep looking,” Chloe said.

 

Turning the page again, Max saw neither Rachel or Victoria wearing any professional outfits. Instead, it was polaroids of Chloe, Rachel, Victoria, even Kate. All of the photos were taken in different areas with the people in the photos doing different things. One showed Kate enjoying a pancake at the diner, Victoria studying at Blackwell, and many more.

 

‘So the Max in this universe is making a modeling, designer, and I assume photography studio,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“I swear, every time I look at your stuff, I feel so… inadequate. You have the eye of a marksman, but like with a camera,” Chloe said.

 

Max smiled and said, “I may be good with a camera, but you are a master with your design skills.”

 

“My years of graffiti are finally worth something,” Chloe said.

 

“And Rachel… these shots… You look so…”

 

“Sexy,” Rachel flipped her hair.

 

“Well… yeah,” Max said, feeling her cheeks heat up a bit.

 

“With Rachel’s modeling, my design, and your camera skills, I reckon we can kick the asses of any photographer from here to New York,” Chloe said.

 

“I don’t know… Juyá Gentil and Todd Laffler are pretty big,” Max said as she continued looking at the photos.

 

Feeling a silence in the room, Max looked up and saw Chloe and Rachel staring at her.

 

“What?”

 

“You’re like one of the biggest photography nerds ever, you know that,” Chloe asked.

 

The three then stayed silent before Max saw Rachel’s lips forming a small smile. Looking towards Chloe, Max saw her cheeks were slowly getting bigger in a failing attempt to keep in her laughter. Soon, Max started chuckling and the three shared yet another laugh.

 

“This is gonna be great… Maybe I can ask my parents to help us get some money to get started,” Max said.

 

Suddenly, Chloe and Rachel stopped laughing, which prompted Max to look them and ask, “What?”

 

“Well… remember what happened when you told them about this last year,” Rachel asked.

 

‘Shit…’

 

“No,” Max said in a questioning tone.

 

“Well… they said no,” Rachel said.

 

“They did more than that,” Chloe said as she stood up and walked away.

 

“Chloe,” Rachel said.

 

“I’m gonna go grab something to drink,” Chloe said as she opened the door and slammed it.

 

Max sat there confused as Rachel said, “Sorry… ever since what happened with you, Chloe and your folks haven’t been on the best terms. I guess before that as well…”

 

“Oh… I guess tomorrow’s gonna be awkward,” Max said.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she doesn’t try to cause a scene. Hey… um I know that I already asked this, but have you decided about telling them about us?”

 

‘Well, just be careful. Don’t want anyone to get the wrong implication…’

 

The words of Max’s mom suddenly made much more sense.

 

“Oh yeah… oh jeez, I didn’t really think of that,” Max said as she looked down.

 

Rachel patted Max’s back and sighed, “Well whatever happens… at least we’ll all have each other right?”

 

Max smiled, “Yeah…”

 

“Alright, let’s go see if Chloe’s burning something downstairs,” Rachel said as she stood up.

 

“Hey Rachel,” Max said.

 

“Yeah?”

“Um… I don’t recall if I ever mentioned this, but I think you’re pretty cool,” Max said.

 

“You better think I’m cool,” Rachel said, “Now move your scrawny ass.”

 

Max stood up and the two walked downstairs to see Chloe drinking straight from the orange juice container before slamming it on the counter.

 

“Hey Clo, you good,” Rachel asked.

 

“Yeah,” Chloe sighed, “Sorry Max, I…”

“It’s okay… Rachel told me,” Max said, “Which reminds me… you know they’re coming right?”

“Yup, can’t wait for that reunion,” Chloe said sarcastically before looking at Max, “I promise that I won’t be a dick, okay? But I swear, if your mom is gonna be a bitch, I will not hold back.”

 

“I don’t expect you to,” Max smiled as she grabbed Chloe’s hand, “But I would appreciate it if you try.”

 

The three heard the front door open up, which prompted them to look down the hallway and saw Joyce walking in with a couple bags. Upon seeing Max, Joyce set down her bags and smiled, “Max, welcome back.”

 

“Joyce,” Max smiled as she ran up and hugged her.

 

“Oh you have no idea how much we missed you,” Joyce chuckled.

 

As Max chuckled, she looked towards the front door and saw William standing there… his face covered in broken glass and burning.

 

‘You cannot stop the storm…’

 

Max did not respond to the vision. Instead, she just broke the embrace and said, “You have no idea how much I missed everyone… after all that’s happened.”

 

“Yes, I saw the news. No one in the diner could believe it,” Joyce said.

 

Rachel rubbed her shoulders, “Yeah, makes me feel disgusted knowing that he was teaching us while…”

 

“Is there any update from David,” Max asked.

 

“David said that he is going to be receiving some results from the team within the next few hours, so he is going to be late for dinner, so I recking that we can go ahead and start without him. Chloe and Max, if you wouldn’t mind setting the table. Rachel, you’re welcome to stay.”

 

“Yeah… I don’t really feel like staying in the school tonight after hearing what Max said,” Rachel said.

 

“Back from the dead and she’s already putting you to work,” Chloe whispered.

 

As Max watched Chloe follow her mom into the kitchen, Max held a half smile.

 

‘You seem very comfortable.’

 

Turning toward the voice, Max saw the decaying Max standing beside her.

 

‘Just because you may be here instead of me doesn’t mean that you’re me. Just because Rachel and Chloe are here doesn’t mean that they’re yours. You may be here… but you will never belong here…’

 

With that, the vision vanished, leaving Max to stand there, her smile vanished as she stood there, that Max’s words echoing in her mind.

 

“Max, I need a hand with some of the plates,” Chloe said.

 

“Coming,” Max said as she walked over to help Chloe.

Chapter Text

Max, Rachel, Chloe, and Joyce sat around the table, enjoying some freshly cooked chicken and Brussel sprouts. As Max took a bite of the food, Max could not help but smile.

 

‘At least Joyce’s cooking hasn’t changed,’ Max thought to herself as she continued eating.

 

“So Max, what do you plan on doing now,” Joyce asked.

 

“What do you mean,” Max asked.

 

“Well… I mean with everything that’s happened. Are you planning on going back to Blackwell,” Joyce asked.

 

“… I’m not sure,” Max said as she set down her fork, “After everything that’s happened there… For now, I just need a bit of time if that makes sense.”

 

“I completely understand. Besides, I bet that school is just begging you to ask and they’ll give you a fully paid scholarship. But don’t fret, you’ll always have a place here,” Joyce smiled.

 

“Thank you Joyce. Actually… I was thinking that perhaps that we could all do something this week. Maybe go to Portland or something,” Max suggested.

 

“Hell yeah, we can take my truck,” Chloe smiled.

 

“If we take your truck, we’d make it a mile out of town before it broke down,” Rachel chuckled.

 

“Hey, my baby just needs a few repairs is all,” Chloe said, “Nothing I can’t fix.”

 

“If by repairs, you mean a viking funeral,” Rachel said.

 

“Max, come on. Defend your girlfriend,” Chloe said.

 

“Yeah Max, defend your girlfriend,” Rachel said.

 

“Uh…”

 

“Oh, that is enough of that from both of you. You’re stressing the poor girl out,” Joyce said, “Chloe, why don’t you take the truck to the shop tomorrow just to make sure that your truck is fine?”

 

“I don’t need to pay some jackass three hundred bucks to do something I can do myself,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“Ugh Fine,” Chloe said.

 

“Thank you. Now, I know that having Max back is great, but don’t forget that you both have school tomorrow,” Joyce said.

 

“After everything that’s happened, I’d be surprised if we even have class tomorrow,” Rachel said.

 

“Well, either way, you two are going just to be sure. Lord knows all I need is to explain to the district attorney why his daughter ditching class in my house,” Joyce said.

 

“It’s cool, I can take her,” Chloe said.

 

“Is there anything that I can help with,” Max asked.

 

“I want you to stay here and rest. Besides, I need to some help getting the house ready for when your parents show up tomorrow,” Joyce said.

 

“Hmph,” Chloe said.

 

“And I expect you all to be on your best behavior, Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“I’ll be good if they will,” Chloe responded.

 

“Chloe…”

 

“I already told Max that I’ll be cool about it,” Chloe said.


“Well, I appreciate that. Anyways, I plan on having a barbecue tomorrow. That way, it would give David and your dad something to talk about.”

 

“Can I come too,” Rachel asked.

 

“If you want to. You’re also more than welcome here.”

 

“When are you planning on heading to the store,” Max asked.

 

“Probably early in the morning,” Joyce said.

 

“Wait, what if Max has another hallucination episode and no one is here to help her,” Chloe asked.

 

“What other episode,” Joyce asked.

 

“It was nothing,” Max said.

 

“Max, you were crying and saying, ‘I’m sorry,’” Chloe said.

 

“When did this happen,” Joyce asked.

 

“…An hour or two ago,” Max said.

 

“Max, when you have these episodes, you have to tell us,” Joyce said.

 

“She’s fine, mom,” Chloe said.

 

“It isn’t just making sure she’s fine, Chloe. The doctor asked us to keep track of any abnormal behavior,” Joyce said before looking at Max, “Max, how many of these hallucination episodes have you had since leaving the hospital?”

 

“Just one bad episode… and a few smaller episodes,” Max said.

 

Joyce’s eyes widened and said, “Max, when you have these episodes, no matter how bad they are, you need to tell one of us, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Max said.

 

“Thank you. I don’t mean to sound rude, I just want to make sure that you are okay, and hearing that you are having a panic attack is not something that fits that category. Anyways, that changes the schedule. Because of this, I think that it would be best if you have someone with you in case you have another hallucination episode. So how about this: Rachel, you can spend the night here, then both you and Chloe will head to school tomorrow. Max, you’ll help me get the house ready for your parents and when both Chloe and Rachel come back, you can go with Chloe to the mechanic to have her truck checked on while Rachel will help me prepare the food. I hope you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, Miss Amber.”

 

“I’ve dissected a rat and a frog in the last two weeks, Mrs. Price. Raw meat will be the least disgusting thing that I’ve touched,” Rachel smiled.

 

“Then it’s decided,” Joyce said, “Now, I suggest you three hurry up and finish your meals. We’ve got a big day tomorrow. Max, I can assume you’ll be staying in your room?”

 

‘My room,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Oh shit, we forgot to show you,” Chloe said.

 

Location: Price Residence Second Floor

Time: Night

 

Max followed Chloe and Rachel up the stairs before stopping just outside of the bathroom. Max then watched as Chloe grabbed the string to the attic and pulled down the ladder.

 

“Wow… I almost forgot I lived up there,” Max said, assuming this was the case.

 

“Trust me, I remember. You would come down and ask me to stay with you and keep the scary shadows away,” Chloe chuckled as she began climbing the ladder.

 

“And I remember Chloe repeating that story over and over and over,” Rachel said as she gestured to Max to follow Chloe.

 

Max began climbing the ladder and heard Chloe from the attic, “Well, if I had to deal with this paranoid cutie, then you have to hear about it as well. That was our rule, remember?”

 

 “Yeah yeah,” Rachel said.

 

Max reached the top and saw the attic.

 

It was completely rearranged from what Max remembered. Instead of the maze of boxes and crates, it was almost something that could constitute as a bedroom. There was a bed, a drawer, a lamp, and a bunch of bags and boxes in front of the bed. The only problem… the size of the attic.

 

“Is it as bland as you remember,” Chloe asked in her crooked posture.

 

Max did not say anything. Instead, she simply smiled as she walked to her bed and sat down in it. It was… not the most comfortable.

 

“It’s as comfortable as I remember,” Max lied.

 

“So not at all,” Rachel asked as she climbed to the top.

 

“Yeah,” Max said as she stood up, causing the two of them to laugh.

 

Meanwhile, Chloe rolled her eyes and gave them both the finger, “Fuck both of you. You have any idea how hard it is to get a mattress up here?”

 

“I swear Max, how did you even manage to live up here before coming to Blackwell,” Rachel asked as she angled herself another way.

 

“Positive attitude,” Max asked.

 

“Plus sneaking into my room and getting into bed with me,” Chloe said.

 

Max blushed a little as she sat down on the bed and looked at the bags and boxes.

 

“What’s with the bags and boxes,” Max asked as she opened one bag to see some of her belongings inside of it.

 

Chloe crossed her arms and looked away as Rachel said, “When you disappeared, Chloe, her family, and I packed up all your stuff from school for safe keeping.”

 

“Yeah, then your parents kept trying to have us send it back. I guess they didn’t want your gay friends possibly tainting their daughter’s stuff anymore,” Chloe said angrily.

 

“Chloe, they never said that,” Rachel said.

 

“They didn’t need to say it,” Chloe said.

 

“God… I’m nervous for tomorrow,” Max said.

 

“You think they’re gonna have you go back with them to Seattle,” Rachel asked.

 

“Fuck that,” Chloe said.

 

“Maybe,” Max said, “I don’t know…”

 

“Well, if the two of us act all professional in front of them tomorrow, then maybe Max can convince them to let Max stay here with us in Arcadia instead of dragging her all the way back to Seattle, hm? And when they go, perhaps the three of us can have some fun?”

 

Chloe couldn’t hide the small smile on her face as she said, “Fine… but I am not dying my hair back or wearing a suit. Fuck that.”

 

“Oh, I would love to see you in a suit,” Max said.

 

“The only time you’re seeing my ass in a suit is if I’m walking down the aisle,” Chloe winked.

 

“Chloe,” Joyce called out from the ladder, “Let Max get some sleep.”

 

“Okay mom,” Chloe said, “Well… off to bed.”

 

“Alright. Good night Max,” Rachel smiled as she leaned in and kissed Max on the cheek.

 

As she began to descend down the ladder, Chloe leaned into Max and whispered, “I’ll leave the ladder down in case you wanna join Rach and I.”

 

Max nodded as Chloe pecked Max’s other cheek and followed Rachel shortly after, leaving Max alone in the attic. Staying seated at the edge of her bed, Max looked towards the bags and boxes and began to open them. It was things that she expected: clothes, bedding, hygienic supplies, camera parts, and then she saw it.

 

This universe’s Max’s journal…

 

‘This could be my chance to learn more about this universe’s Max…’

 

Grabbing the journal, Max opened it to a random page.

 

August 7th, 2011

 

Today, Chloe introduced me to Rachel. She was very nice. A bit flirty with me though… Chloe even noticed, but Rachel was also pretty flirty with Chloe too. Maybe I’m just over-exaggerating.

 

Turning to another random page.

 

January 2nd, 2012

 

I don’t even know what to write right now… so much has happened. I got an A on my English test, I got a fifty dollar tip, and… Chloe and Rachel, well… they asked me something I thought was a prank. They asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship with both of them. I mean, I do, but… oh God, what would my parents say.

 

Max noticed another person must have written here. A person with very familiar handwriting.

 

Tell them that they can go fuck themselves if they don’t approve.

 

‘Classic Chloe,’ Max smiled.

 

Then… curiosity got the better of Max. Turning to the last page written in, Max read its contents.

 

April 21st, 2013

 

I feel like I’m being watched by someone… I don’t know who, but I am starting to get worried about it. Whenever I am walking around campus, I feel a pair of eyes on me. I told Mr. Jefferson about it and he told me that he’s going to talk with security about it. I want to tell Chloe and Rachel, but I don’t wanna worry them. Maybe this weekend, I can go back to Chloe’s and spend some time there…

 

Max shut the book and held it close to her as she laid down in the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

 

“I’m sorry that you had to go through this… me,” Max mumbled.

 

Location: Price Residence

Time: Night

 

“Don’t say that… I won't trade you.’

 

‘You're not trading me. Maybe you've just been delaying my real destiny… Look at how many times I've almost died or actually died around you. Look at what's happened in Arcadia Bay ever since you first saved me. I know I've been selfish, but for once I think I should accept my fate… our fate…’

 

‘Chloe…’

 

'Max… it’s time…'

 

‘Chloe… I’m so, so sorry… I… I don’t want to do this.’

 

‘I’ll always love you. Now, get out of here, please! Do it before I freak. And Max Caulfield. Don’t you forget about me.’

 

“Chloe,” Max said as she shot up from her bed, her face covered in sweat once again.

 

Quickly looking around, Max deduced that she was in Chloe’s attic. Sighing in relief, Max felt a dryness in her throat and whispered to herself, “I should grab some water.”

 

Stepping down the ladder slowly and sneaking past Chloe’s room to not wake either Chloe or Rachel, Max heard the front door open and heard some voices downstairs.

 

“There you are. How was work?”

 

Max snuck down some of the stairs and looked through the openings to see David walk over to the dining table and sat down while Joyce brought some coffee.

 

“David?”

 

“I… We found it,” David said as he placed his head in his hands, “They had… so many photos of so many different women.”

 

Joyce said nothing. Instead, she just sat down beside David as he looked at Joyce and continued.

 

“There were video recordings as well. The tech crew is running through them right now,” David said, “But… I don’t think I wanna know what’s on those tapes. And then I… I saw Max’s binder. When I opened it… I swear Joyce, I would have killed the bastard if he was there from what I saw.”

 

“I know, David,” Joyce said as she placed a hand on David’s, “What matters is that Max managed to escape and brought this whole thing crashing down.”

 

“I just… Oh my god,” David said.

 

“It’s okay,” Joyce said as she hugged David, “It’s okay…”

 

Deciding to leave the two to their own discussion, Max sat back up and backed up from the stairs. As she was about to head back up the ladder, Max stopped and looked at Chloe’s room. Looking back up the ladder and then back at the door, Max let go of the ladder and approached the door.

 

Lightly knocking on the door, Max heard shuffling and saw the door open to see Chloe and Rachel were wide awake, seemingly waiting for her.

 

“Took you long enough,” Chloe smirked.

 

Max smiled as she walked inside and Chloe shut the door slowly.

Chapter Text

Chloe slowly opened her eyes and had a smile on her face.

 

“So Max, how was last,” Chloe’s sentence trailed off as she shifted her body around and saw Max was not in the bed.

 

“Hey… Hey Rachel,” Chloe asked.

 

Placing a hand on Rachel’s cheek, Chloe heard the young woman groan and mumble, “Five more minutes…”

 

“Rachel, do you know where Max is,” Chloe turned around and faced her clock.

 

One of Rachel’s eyes opened as she said, “Is she in bed?”

 

“No,” Chloe said as she got out of bed.

 

Walking out into the hallway, Chloe’s eyes widened as she called out, “Max?!”

 

“Downstairs,” Max called back.

 

Chloe gasped as she felt relief wash over her as she walked back into her room.

 

“She’s downstairs,” Chloe said.

 

“Oh Thank God,” Rachel sighed in relief, “I don’t think I could take that being a dream…”

 

“Okay… come on. Let’s get ready for school,” Chloe said.

 

“If we even have it,” Rachel said as she turned around to have her back face away from Chloe, “Give me ten more… years.”

 

“Come on, Rach,” Chloe said as she stood up and faced Rachel, “time to move your ass.”

 

“…Zzzz,” Rachel pretended to snore.

 

“Unbelievable,” Chloe rolled her eyes as she looked at the covers.

 

Smirking, Chloe grabbed them and yanked as hard as she could, revealing Rachel’s pajamas, which was merely her underwear. The sudden blast of morning air caused Rachel to groan.

 

“Ugh Fine… but I call showering first,” Rachel said as she stood up.

 

“Deal,” Chloe said.

 

 

 

As Rachel grabbed some fresh clothes and walked towards the bathroom, Chloe walked downstairs and heard the sound of cooking coming from the kitchen. Once she reached the floor, Chloe heard Joyce talking.

 

“So she comes back and says, ‘I mean, how was I supposed to remember that H2 is a medical gas which has a significant positive effect on several areas of health?’ And I would just be sitting there, thinking to myself, ‘What on earth is she saying to me?’”

 

Hearing two sounds of laughter, Chloe walked around the corner to see Max and Joyce cooking in the kitchen.

 

“Chloe, what did I say about walking around my house in your underwear,” Joyce said in an angered tone.

 

“Sorry that I was worried that my girlfriend coming back from the dead was a dream,” Chloe said as she approached Max and hugged her, “You okay?”

 

Max patted Chloe’s back and said, “I’m fine.”

 

“I already went through the list of medical questions. She’s fine,” Joyce said as Chloe broke the embrace.

 

“Hey… are those my clothes,” Chloe asked.

 

Max looked down and sure enough, she was wearing one of Chloe’s tank tops and pajama shorts.

 

“Yeah, sorry… I didn’t wanna wake you up by going through all of your drawers and these were just lying there,” Max said, “I hope you don’t mind.”

 

“No, no, makes you look badass,” Chloe said.

 

“Hey, I can be badass in my normal outfits, can’t I,” Max asked.

 

Chloe just stared at Max for a few moments before turning to Joyce and asking, “So what are you two up to?”

“Hey!”

 

“I was just helping Max make some breakfast,” Joyce said, “More like helping Max not burn the house down…”

 

“Oh come on, she isn’t that ba—”

 

“She burned the rest of the bacon,” Joyce said.

 

Chloe’s eyes widened as she asked, “But how are we gonna have eggs, bakey, and toast without the bakey?”

 

“Oh hush Chloe,” Joyce said, “I was heading to the store already. I’ll get some bacon while I’m there.”

 

Chloe quickly calmed down and jumped up, “Okay cool. So what’s for breakfast?”

 

“Eggs and toast,” Joyce said, “So go get dressed for school before they get cold.”

 

“Ugh fine,” Chloe said as she walked away from the two.

 

“I swear, I do not know what you see in that girl,” Joyce said.

 

“I heard that,” Chloe said.

 

Joyce and Max chuckled as Chloe ran back up the stairs and into her room to see Rachel was sitting at the desk, looking at her email.

 

“Rach, come on!”

 

“Chloe, come here and look at this,” Rachel said.

 

Chloe walked over and looked at the screen.

 

‘My fellow Blackwell Academy students,

 

In the past few days, this town and this academy has learned some shocking revelations regarding not just a member of our academic community, but this member being one of our own faculty regarding the disappearance of Max Caulfield. We are mortified to hear these revelations and are striving to ensure that nothing of this sort happens again.

 

It goes without saying that this member in question has been both fired and arrested by the local authorities.

 

I believe that we all need some time to process the events that have occurred. Because of this, the school board has agreed to cancel all academic courses for the remaining days of this week for you all to process the events that have occurred. All of the teachers will be in their office hours in case you wish to come and discuss how you are feeling in a safe and discreet manner.

 

May we all push forward together.

 

Your Principal,

Principal Raymond Wells’

 

“Holy shit,” Chloe chuckled, “That’s awesome.”

 

“Yeah…”

 

Chloe looked at Rachel and saw that something was wrong.

 

“You okay,” Chloe asked.

 

“I… I just can’t believe that I idolized that fucking creep while he,” Rachel placed a hand to her mouth and began to feel her eyes swell up, “While he had Max…”

 

“You didn’t know. Neither of us did,” Chloe said as she placed a hand on Rachel’s shoulder.

 

Hearing Max and Joyce laughing downstairs, Chloe said, “But you know what, Rach? That doesn’t matter anymore. Listen.”

 

Rachel turned to Chloe and heard laughter.

 

“That… That’s all that matters right now, okay? She’s back and she’s safe… and she needs us. As much as we need her, okay?”

 

Rachel looked at Chloe and nodded her head.

 

“Yeah… okay,” Rachel said.

 

“All right, now get your ass in the shower,” Chloe said.

 

“Okay, okay, I’m going,” Rachel said as she got up and grabbed some of her clothes. Sniffling, Rachel turned and said, “Hey, so what’s for breakfast?”

“Eggs and toast. Max burned all the bacon,” Chloe said.

 

Rachel gave a shocked expression before she said, “You can’t have eggs, bakey, and toast without the bakey, Chloe.”

 

“That’s what I said,” Chloe said.

 

Rachel smiled as she walked into the bathroom with her supplies. Meanwhile, Chloe walked into her room and grabbed her phone and saw some notifications.

 

October 9th, 2013

 

‘Yo Chloe, did you see the email from Wells?’ — Elliot

 

‘Hey Chloe, how is Max doing?’ — Steph

 

‘Hey Chloe, it’s Kate. Do you think that Max could come by the school?’ — Kate

 

‘Man, I just heard the news. Your girlfriend’s pretty fucking tight. She ever needs something, you know how to reach me’ — Unknown (Frank)

 

Chloe sat on her bed and began to respond to them immediately, starting with Elliot.

 

‘Yeah I did’ — C

 

‘How are the three of you doing right now?’ — E

 

‘We’re okay. Max is just getting used to things again.’ — C

 

‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.’ — E

 

‘Thanks, but we got this. We’re planning on heading out this weekend, just the three of us to enjoy some time together.’ — C

 

‘That sounds cool. Let me know if you’d like someone to bring marshmallows lol’ — E

 

Chloe rolled her eyes as she moved on to the next thread.

 

‘Hey. She’s okay. We’re trying to be there for her as much as possible. Unfortunately, her parents are coming to town today…’ — C

 

‘Don’t they hate you for… well…’ — S

 

‘Yeah. I am just so excited.’ — C

 

‘That was sarcastic’ — C

 

‘That could have been more obvious if you had an emoji Chloe’ — S

 

‘Emojis can suck it’ — C

 

‘Anyways, are you and Victoria gonna do anything this weekend?’ — C

 

‘Well, we were already heading out of town for the weekend for a little hangout in Medford’ — S

 

‘Vic is taking you to that cosplay convention, isn’t she?’ — C

 

‘Of course not.’ — S

 

‘*whisper* Yes. I love her so much (=u=’ — S

 

‘Lol’ — C

 

‘Anyways, we should be back by next Monday, so maybe we can hang out afterwards.’ — S

 

‘Oh I almost forgot! Kate sent you a message! Read it!’ — S

 

Chloe went over to Kate’s text and replied.

 

‘Hey Kate. I can check with Max, but I bet that she would love to see you again.’ — C

 

‘Splendid. Let me know what she says.’ — K

 

Chloe went to her last text thread with the Unknown number and just responded with…

 

‘Thanks F’ — C

 

Setting her phone down, Chloe back downstairs and saw Max was preparing the table while Joyce was finishing the cooking.

 

“Chloe, why aren’t you getting ready,” Joyce asked.

“Rachel’s in the shower right now. Besides, I have some news. Wells canceled classes for the rest of the week,” Chloe said.

 

“Really,” Joyce asked.

 

“I can send you the email right now,” Chloe said as she looked at her phone.

 

“Look at me,” Joyce said.

 

The two stared into the other’s eyes before Joyce nodded, “Okay, you’re telling the truth.”

 

Chloe nodded as she looked over to Max and said, “Hey Max, since a shit ton of free time just opened up, you up for a little adventure around town before your parents show up?”

 

“I suppose so. Where?”

 

“Well, first the mechanic,” Chloe rolled her eyes, “But then, some folks at school wanna see you again.”

 

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? What if she has another episode there,” Joyce asked.

 

“Rachel and I will be right beside her,” Chloe said.

 

“Wouldn’t it be a bit overwhelming for Max,” Joyce asked.

 

“It’s okay,” Max said, “I want to see them all again.”

 

“You sure,” Joyce asked.

 

“I’m sure, plus I trust Chloe and Rachel to help me in case something happens,” Max smiled.


Joyce sighed and shook her head, “All right, if something happens, let me know.”

 

At that moment, the three heard someone coming down the stairs and turned to see Rachel, fully dressed and ready to go.

 

“Morning Mrs. Price, morning Max,” Rachel winked.

 

“H-Hey Rachel,” Max simply blushed as a response.

 

“I assume you heard about school,” Joyce asked.

 

“I was the one who showed Chloe,” Rachel said.

 

“Well… since you two don’t have school, why don’t you two take your eggs and toast on the road and head on over to the mechanic,” Joyce asked.

 

“Yeah, we can do that,” Chloe said, “Rach?”

 

“I’m down.”

 

“We’ll head over to the mechanic, then the school, and be back before Max’s mom can make any assumptions,” Chloe said.

 

“Wait what’s happening,” Rachel asked.

 

“I’ll explain on the way,” Chloe said.

 

“Shower Chloe,” Joyce said.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Chloe said as she jogged back upstairs.

 

Shaking her head, Rachel looked towards Max and asked, “How’s our girl of the year doing?”

 

“I’m good… nervous about my parents,” Max said.

 

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Rachel said as she stroked Max’s hair and tucked it behind Max’s ear, “Maybe they will get super drunk and not care about anything.”

 

The thought of it made Max chuckle, which made Rachel smile.

 

“There’s a smile,” Rachel said as she leaned in and kissed Max on the cheek.

 

The three heard Chloe run downstairs in her usual clothing and said, “All right, let’s go.”

 

“Chloe, did you even shower,” Joyce asked.

 

“Yes…”

 

“Look me in the eye,” Joyce said.

 

The two stared at one another before Joyce pointed up at the ceiling and said, “Shower. Now.”

 

“Ugh… You have like super powers or something,” Chloe said as she ran back upstairs.

 

As Chloe walked back upstairs, Max’s small smile faded as she remembered that time in the diner… along with everything else that has happened to her since getting these powers.

 

But now was not the time to think about the past… now was time to enjoy some good food.

Chapter Text

Location: Price Household

Time: Morning

 

Max and Rachel were waiting for Chloe at the entrance to the Price household as David began to descend down the stairs. Max quickly noticed that David looked exhausted.

 

“Morning, you two,” David said as he rubbed his eyes.

 

“Morning, David,” Max said.

 

“Hey David,” Rachel said.

 

“How um…How’re you feeling Max,” David asked.

 

“Nervous…”

 

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I’ll do what I can to buy you as much time as you need to spend time with Rachel and Chloe here. Your dad still likes bourbon right?”

 

‘At least that didn’t change,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Yeah, he always liked to say that it was time to get his bourb on,” Max smiled.

 

“Heh, I like him already,” David chuckled as he walked into the kitchen.

 

As he walked away, Rachel crossed her arms, looked at Max and said, “So are you ready to go back to Blackwell? Er, Well… visit it I suppose.”

 

‘Like I’m about to visit a cemetery, only the people there aren’t dead… yet,’ Max thought to herself.

 

Max scratched her arm and said, “I don’t know… I mean, the last time I was there…”

 

“I know. You know… while you were gone, Chloe and I read your journal to see if there were any clues. When we got to your last entry,” Rachel trailed off as she closed her eyes and shook her head.

 

“Rachel,” Max said.

 

Rachel composed herself and placed a hand on Max’s shoulder before saying, “I’m um… I’m gonna be honest with you Max… There were times when I thought that you were gone. God knows how much I hated to think that, but… there were times…  And *sniff* I’m sorry Max…”

 

‘Maybe I should improvise something to make her feel better,’ Max thought to herself.

 

Max walked up and held Rachel’s hand gently and said, “Rachel… You know what kept me going? What kept me from giving up in the Dark Room?”

 

“What?”

 

“It was you and Chloe. Jefferson had taken pictures of the two of you going around town and setting up MISSING posters. I guess he thought it was a way of just reminding me that if I escaped, that he would kill you both… but instead, it just gave me hope that at least you two were looking for me,” Max said.

 

Rachel nodded and said, “Well… I’m glad that I was wrong. You stayed strong and you kicked that asshole right into a nice uncomfortable jail cell. Just remember that.”

 

Max smiled at Rachel and said, “…I like that thought.”

 

Rachel smirked and patted Max’s shoulder, “You damn well should.”

 

“Damn well should what,” Chloe asked as she walked downstairs, her hair still wet from the shower.

 

“Imagine Jefferson in a jail,” Rachel said.

 

“Ho ho, I can think of several ways he’s gonna be welcomed there,” Chloe laughed.

 

While Chloe and Rachel laughed, Max just smiled at the two. Chloe looked over to Max and her laughter died out before she said, “So are the two of you ready?”

 

“What’s the plan,” Rachel asked.

 

“Well, let’s see,” Chloe raised her hand.

 

“You still draw notes on your hand,” Max asked.

 

“Where else am I gonna put ‘em,” Chloe asked.

 

“I…”

 

Max felt a hand on her shoulder and saw Rachel looking at her.

 

“Trust me, Max. I’ve been trying… she’s a lost cause,” Rachel said dramatically as she shook her head.

 

“Fuck both of you,” Chloe gave the finger before looking at her palm, “Okay, so mom is heading to the store to get the supplies for the barbecue. We’re gonna drop by the school to say hi to everyone and then go over to the mechanic to have my truck looked at for our getaway during this long weekend. And then we’re gonna be back before one to deal with Max’s parents.”

 

“Shouldn’t we go to the mechanic first? Just to be safe,” Rachel asked.

 

“Ugh,” Chloe lowered her arm and rolled her eyes, “The truck is fine.”

 

“Chloe… there is a hole in the floor of the passenger seat,” Rachel said.

 

“There’s a mat over it,” Chloe said.

 

“I am not letting Max go anywhere in that death trap unless it’s to the mechanic’s first,” Rachel said.

 

“Well, why don’t we let Max decide for herself then,” Chloe said as she looked at Max, “Max?”

 

“Uh…”

 

‘Well… I don’t exactly recall Chloe’s truck being bad… then again, this is an alternate timeline… anything can happen…’

 

“I choose…”

 

Chloe’s smile was so wide as she anticipated what Max was going to pick…

 

Location: Mechanic

Time: Morning

 

“Ugh… this is bullshit,” Chloe groaned as she sat in the shop, waiting for the mechanic to finish his assessment.

 

Meanwhile, Max and Rachel sat patiently beside Chloe. Max was just contemplating things in her head, Rachel was texting someone, and Chloe sat there with her arms crossed and a sour look on her face as the mechanic walked up.

 

“Okay, which of you is the owner of the truck,” The mechanic asked.

 

“Me,” Chloe groaned as she stood up.

 

“I apologize in advance for my girlfriend, sir. She can be grouchy in the morning,” Rachel said to the mechanic, which caused Max to give a small chuckle.

 

Chloe gave a glare to the two before turning back to the mechanic and said, “Alright, let me hear it.”

 

“Well, you have rust around your vehicle, your engine showing signs of combustion failure, and there is a hole in your passenger side floor.”

 

“I put a mat over the hole,” Chloe said.

 

“Okay, well,” The mechanic said as he walked over to his computer and typed it in, “New engine is gonna cost a few grand.”

 

“What about getting a used engine,” Chloe asked.

 

“Used,” The mechanic worked on the numbers a bit, “We can do seven hundred for a used engine. Got one that’s clocking at about 7,000 miles. Plus some plate welding for hole in the passenger floor. That’s gonna be about… two hundred. And the rust removal is going to be another three hundred dollars. Adding to a total of… twelve hundred dollars.”

 

“Shit,” Chloe groaned.

 

“I can pay for it,” Rachel said.

 

“Rach no,” Chloe said as she pulled out her card out of her wallet, “Here…”

 

“All right, let me just run this through and you can be on your way,” The mechanic said as he grabbed the card walked away from the three.

 

“Ugh,” Chloe groaned as she put her wallet back in her pocket.

 

Chloe walked back over and slumped down into the chair. Trying to make her feel better, Max placed her head on Chloe’s as Rachel said, “See? Now we won’t die on the way to Portland.”

 

“Hmph,” Chloe mumbled as Max placed her head against Chloe’s.

 

“So how are we getting to the school now,” Max asked.

 

“Don’t worry, I already have it under control,” Rachel said as she finished sending

 

Max and Chloe looked at Rachel, who had a smirk on her face as she texted someone on her phone, as the latter asked, “What did you do?”

 

Before Rachel could respond, the door to the shop opened and the three saw a familiar figure standing in the doorway.

 

“Max Caulfield,” Victoria Chase said with a smile on her face.

 

‘Okay. Victoria Chase is smiling… because of me. Not something I expected to see…”

 

“You have no idea how happy I am,” Victoria said as she approached Max with her arms extended. As Max went in for the hug, she saw Victoria’s face suddenly change from a happy and warm smile… to a decaying glare, ‘to be forced to live again…’

 

Max’s eyes widened as she backed away from Victoria. Looking towards Chloe and Rachel, she saw that they were alternate dead versions of themselves. All of them staring at her with their clouded eyes.

 

‘Let us die Max…’

 

‘Let us die…’

 

Max backed up until she hit the wall of the shop as she saw the visions approach her.

 

Max, refusing to look at them all, just closed her eyes and mumbled, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”

 

“What’s happening,” Max heard Victoria’s muffled voice ask.

 

“She’s having a hallucination,” Chloe’s muffled response.

 

The voices kept repeating familiar phrases as Max responded with the same phrase multiple times. Soon, she felt a few pairs of arms slowly wrap around her as Max began to hear two sets of voices.

 

‘Max… it’s okay…’

 

That line was repeated until the voices from the visions faded away and Max could only hear Rachel and Chloe’s real voices. Indicating that the visions were gone for now, Max slowly wrapped her arms around the two.

 

Opening her eyes slightly, Max saw Victoria standing away from the three, clear concern on her face, who’s eyes and skin had reverted back to normal. Breaking from the embrace, Max looked at her girlfriends and saw that they were all normal again.

 

“I’m okay,” Max said.

 

“You sure you wanna still go to the school,” Rachel asked.

 

Max nodded as she walked over to Victoria.

 

“S-Sorry,” Max said as she scratched her arm awkwardly.

 

“N-No, no, you don’t need to apologize. Rachel mentioned that you are still processing what happened,” Victoria said.

 

“Yeah,” Max said as she looked down.

 

“Well, know that you have the respect of practically everyone at school, my own included. If you need a second model or a second designer, Stephanie and I are more than willing to help you out… if you three are still planning on that company idea?”

 

‘…Who’s Stephanie,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“Damn right we are,” Chloe smiled.

 

“Well that’s good. Stephanie came up with some cool ideas that she wants to run by you Chloe,” Victoria said.

 

“Hell yeah,” Chloe said.

 

“Okay,” The mechanic said as he came back and saw the new girl, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

 

“Oh I’m just here to pick up these three.”

 

“Ah, well the card was approved. So we will give you a call, but it should be done around tomorrow,” The mechanic said as he handed the card back to Chloe.

 

“Thanks,” Chloe said as she put her card back in her wallet.

 

“Are we all set then,” Victoria asked.

 

The three gave their various “yes” answers before they followed Victoria out. As the four began to walk out of the mechanic, Chloe, Max, and Rachel saw Victoria unlock her car, which was a 2013 Buick Cascada Base.

 

“Nice, we got the Chase-mobile,” Chloe said.

 

“I still don’t know why you refer to it as that. It’s just my car,” Victoria said as she opened the driver side door of the car, “So where do you all wanna sit?”

 

“Why don’t we have Max in the front and we can sit in the back,” Rachel suggested.

 

“I can do that,” Chloe said.

 

“Max,” Rachel asked.

 

“Yeah,” Max said as she walked up and got in.

 

Location: The Way to Blackwell

Time: Morning

 

“So do you guys have anything special planned,” Victoria asked.

 

“We’re going out of town for a few days,” Rachel said.

 

“Oh really?”

 

“Well, we’re thinking of heading to Portland this weekend,” Rachel said.

 

“Stephanie and I are heading to Medford this weekend to go attend a comic convention.”

 

“You… Victoria Chase,” Max said.

 

“I happen to find the style of some cosplays intriguing,” Victoria said.

 

“Yeah, especially when those costumes are on Steph, right,” Rachel asked.

 

“N-No, of course not,” Victoria said with a blush on her face.

 

Max noticed this and thought to herself, ‘Wait… Victoria is gay?’

 

“When are you planning on leaving,” Rachel asked.

 

“I just helped Stephanie get her bags packed this morning. We are planning on leaving later this evening,” Victoria sighed, “I have a hotel room reserved through Sunday, and I may have placed some reservations at the spa as well for us.”

“Oooh The Princess is getting all flirty,” Chloe teased.

 

“I happen to be very flirty, Chloe. I just prefer to keep it between Stephanie and I. Unlike a certain someone,” Victoria looked back at Chloe.

 

“Oh come on, Steph knows I kid,” Chloe said.

 

“She may find it amusing… I still do not,” Victoria said.

 

‘So Victoria and this Steph person are gonna be out of town through Sunday… That means that they’re gonna avoid the storm then… thank God,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“So what are the three of you planning to do in Portland,” Victoria asked.

 

“Honestly? We didn’t really think that far ahead,” Rachel said.

 

“Yeah, our minds have been a bit pre-occupied,” Chloe said.

 

“Drama at the Price house again,” Victoria asked.

 

“Not the usual issues. Max’s parents are coming later today,” Chloe said as she pulled out her phone, “In about two hours or so.”

 

“Ah,” Victoria said.

 

“Yeah, Chloe is just a bit worried that they’re gonna have Max go home with them after what happened,” Chloe said.

 

“Well… I don’t wish to pick sides here, but that is something that I just expect every parent to do after something like this happens,” Victoria said as she looked at the others, “Of course, I do want you to stay Max… I’m just saying.”

 

“I understand,” Max said.

 

“Not to mention that Rachel and I are gonna have to act like distant acquaintances to Max since her parents are… well… you know,” Chloe said.

 

“Actually, Max talked about it with me the other day and she’s thinking of telling them,” Rachel said.

 

“For real,” Chloe asked.

 

“I was thinking about it, yes,” Max said.

 

“Oh I should make sure that my phone can still record stuff, I would love to record your mom’s reaction,” Chloe smiled wickedly.

 

Victoria turned into the school parking lot as she said, “Well… I suppose all I can say then is good luck.”

 

“Thanks, we’re gonna need it,” Rachel sighed as Victoria pulled into a parking spot, “All right, enough drama talk. Let’s have some fun. Where to, Vic?”

 

“The gym,” Victoria said as everyone got out of the car, “Follow me. Chloe would you mind…”

 

Seeing Victoria pointing at Max and covering her own eyes, Chloe walked up to Max and said, “You trust me Max?”

 

“Do I have a reason not to,” Max asked.

 

“Just being courteous,” Chloe said as she put her hands over Max’s eyes, “Okay, start moving.”

 

Max listened to Chloe’s commands and warnings as the four of them walked towards the gymnasium. Hearing the familiar sound of the gym doors opening and closing, Max felt them walk out into the main gym area and heard someone say, “There she is.”

 

“Shhh.”

 

“Ready,” Chloe asked.

 

Max responded by nodding her head.

 

“Okay,” Chloe said as she whipped her arms away from Max’s face, showing her the sight that was in front of her.

 

“WELCOME BACK,” Warren, a random guy, Kate, Brooke, a random girl, Victoria, Rachel, and Chloe who had run over to the others, yelled.

 

The group stood underneath a balloon arch that held up a banner that said, ‘Max Caulfield: #1 Badass!’

 

Max placed her hands on her mouth and said, “Guys…”

 

“We figured that you deserved a nice but private welcome back,” The girl said.

 

“Thanks,” Max said shyly, “I uh… I really missed you guys.”

 

“We missed you too, Max,” Kate smiled as she walked up and hugged Max tightly, “You have no idea how good it is to see you again.”

 

Max slowly wrapped her arms around Kate and felt herself beginning to tear up. Looking back at Chloe and Rachel, she saw how happy they were… how happy everyone seemed to be… and it made Max happy to see that… even if she was an imposter.

 

As the two broke from the embrace, Max could not help but smile as everyone began talking to her.

 

Location: Price Household

 

Joyce opened the door to her home and slowly walked in with her groceries for the get together with the Caulfields when she heard the phone ringing in the kitchen. Hurrying into the kitchen and setting down the groceries, Joyce picked up the phone and said, “Price Household.”

 

‘Mrs. Price, this is Dr. Matthews from Arcadia Bay General.’

 

“Dr. Matthews, how are you?”

 

‘I am doing well, Mrs. Price. How about yourself and the rest of the household?’

 

“We are doing very well now that Max is back with us. How can I help you,” Joyce asked.

 

‘Well, I just wanted to call and inform you that we have just received Miss Caulfield’s brain scan and it appears that Max does show signs of PTSD. Tell me, has Miss Caulfield been experiencing any more hallucinations?’

 

“According to her friends, yes.”

 

‘Well that was expected given the circumstances. I am wondering if we can set an appointment for a check in tomorrow morning,’ Dr. Matthews said.

 

“Yes, I believe that is doable,” Joyce said.

 

‘Great, does around 10:30 work for you,’ Dr. Matthews asked.

 

“Yes, that should work for me,” Joyce said.

 

‘Great. Until then, just continue looking after her and make sure she has someone near her in the event that she has another episode,’ Dr. Matthews said.

 

“Of course, doctor. Have a good day,” Joyce said as she hung up the phone and sighed.

 

“Everything okay,” David asked as he walked into the kitchen.

 

“Oh yes, that was just the doctor. He’s asking Max to come in for a check in,” Joyce said.

 

“Why don’t I take her.” David asked.

 

“You sure,” Joyce asked.

 

“Sure. I can take her, Rachel, and Chloe. That way, I can stop by the mechanic’s tomorrow and let the girls grab Chloe’s truck,” David said as he wrapped his arms around Joyce’s neck, “And then… maybe while the girls are in Portland, we can perhaps enjoy the house to ourselves?”

 

“Oh you,” Joyce chuckled.

 

Before the two could say anything else, they heard the sound of a car honking outside and a knock on their door.

 

“That must be them,” Joyce said.

 

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Morning

 

Currently, the group of friends were all sitting in a circle, basically telling Max about everything that has happened while she was “gone”.

 

“You’re lying,” Max said.

 

“I am not,” Victoria said.

 

Turning her head to Steph, Max said, “She… Victoria Chase… asked you out.”

 

“Okay, she may not have asked me out, more like she told me that she liked me and asked me what I thought of that,” Steph said.

 

Victoria gently shoved Steph and said, “I was much more romantic than that.”

 

Steph laughed and said, “You know what? Let’s act it out again.”

 

“Oh please, let’s see this,” Chloe clapped.

 

“Roll that charisma check, Steph,” Brooke chuckled.

 

Max watched with a smile on her face as Steph and Victoria stood up and walked to the center of the circle.

 

“Okay, so it’s the Blackwell Spring Dance and I’m just standing off to the side. You know… the Gingrich style,” Steph said as she pretended to hold a cup, “And then I see Victoria approaching me. See at this point, I had begun noticing the glances and looks that Victoria had been giving me during our classes… so I decide to stick in my spot and see what was the point of them.”

 

Victoria walked up and said, “Stephanie Gingrich.”

 

Stephanie turned to face Victoria and asked, “How can I help you, Victoria Chase?”

 

“I don’t want to interrupt you for long. But… well…”

 

Victoria trailed off as Steph’s face shifted from bored to ‘I’m waiting’ and asked, “…Well?”

 

Victoria closed her eyes and said, “I apologize. This is taking a lot for me to say, so I will just say it… I find you to be charismatic, humorous, and… well I… um… I like you.”

 

Steph pretended to drink something when she pretended to choke and cough on her non-existent drink and said, “Wait… hold on a second. What do you mean you like me?”

 

“Exactly what I said,” Victoria said.

 

“You mean you find me tolerable to be around or that you… like like me?”

 

“I believe that both options are how I feel,” Victoria said.

 

“Wow… I would not have expected you to be into someone like me,” Steph smiled.

 

“Well… I am, so… what is your decision,” Victoria asked.

 

“Hmmm,” Steph walked away from Victoria and looked up before turning back and said, “Tell you what? Let me think about it…”

 

“Very well,” Victoria said as she began to walk away.

 

“Whoa whoa whoa, hold on,” Steph said, acting surprised, “Where are you going?”

 

“I am giving you time to think about it,” Victoria said as Steph walked up to her.

 

“You didn’t let me finish,” Steph said as she pointed up at the ceiling, “Let me think about it… while we dance to this song.”

 

Victoria looked down to see Steph’s hand was extending toward her, “Let’s see your dance skills, Miss Chase.”

 

Victoria held Steph’s hand and the two walked back to their chairs together. The group all started clapping, including Max.

 

“Thank you,” Steph said as she bowed before walking over to sit down.

 

“In fact, the trip to Medford is to celebrate three months of being together,” Victoria smiled as she held Steph’s hand.

 

“Well, we all expect pictures,” Warren said.

 

“Damn right,” Chloe said.

 

“Okay, we did ours. It’s fair if we get to hear every couple’s origin, or for a certain three of us…”

 

“Sure, we’ll go next,” Chloe said as she stood up, “Golden Trio? Assemble!”

 

Max and Rachel stood up and walked to the center of the group.

 

“Woo Max,” Kate clapped.

 

“Okay… so the date is January 2nd, 2012. Rachel and I have been dating for like a few months at this point. The two of us are in my room, talking and just taking things steady… when all of a sudden, Rachel asks,” Chloe gestured to Rachel.

 

“Hey Chloe? I have a question.”

 

“Sup?”

 

“If you had the chance to hook up with someone outside of our relationship, who would it be?”

 

“Um… Where’s this coming from,” Chloe asked as she looked at Rachel.

 

“I’m just curious… I have an answer that comes to mind,” Rachel said.

 

“Who,” Chloe asked.

 

“Max,” Rachel winked at Max.

 

“Max,” Chloe asked.

 

“What? You don’t like her?”

 

“Well, I mean… of course I like her. She’s my best friend,” Chloe said as she trailed off.

 

Rachel looked at Chloe and chuckled, “Oh my god, you have a crush on her!”

 

“I do not,” Chloe said, “I have a crush on you!”

 

“Then you have a crush on both of us,” Rachel said.

 

“Shut up,” Chloe said as she pretended to throw something at Rachel, “Why are you even asking?”

 

“Because,” Rachel pulled nothing out from her pocket, “I found Max’s journal.”

 

“Wait what,” Max asked.

 

“You didn’t,” Chloe said as she swiped at Rachel’s hand, but Rachel was too quick and pretended to open the book.

 

“Ahem,” Rachel cleared her throat, “December 19th, 2011. Today was not a very good day for me. For the past few weeks, I have been contemplating who I should ask out… God knows my parents would lose their… censored… if they saw this, but I like both of them a lot… like as in more than friends.”

 

“I don’t like this anymore,” Max said as she crossed her arms, but neither of the other girls seemed to hear her.

 

“Wait seriously,” Chloe said as she walked over and read the non-existent journal entry, “Holy shit… Max has a crush on both of us?”

 

Rachel looked at Chloe as a devious smile formed on her face.

 

“What,” Chloe asked.

 

“Well… I think that I have an idea,” Rachel said.

 

“Max, you ready,” Chloe asked.

 

Max, arms still crossed, looked towards the two and asked, “We aren’t gonna publicly reveal more of my journal are we?”

 

“No, no, of course not,” Chloe said, “Do you remember what you said?”

 

“…No,” Max said.

 

Chloe could tell how uncomfortable Max had gotten after having her journal snippet revealed to the rest of the group, so Chloe said, “Well, to wrap this up quickly, Rachel and I decided to ask Max how she felt towards us. She told us the truth and the three of us found ourselves a compromise… which is what you see before you.”

 

“Yeah, the Golden Trio, together again,” Rachel said as she started to wrap her arm around Max.

 

But as Rachel did so, Max just started crying.

 

“Max,” Rachel asked.

 

Max started shaking her head before she walked away from the group, heading out of the gym.

 

“Max,” Chloe shouted.

 

“I’ll go talk to her,” Kate said as she started chasing after Max.

 

Location: Outside the Gymnasium

Time: Morning

 

‘I don’t belong here… I’m nothing but a fake,’ Max thought to herself as she walked out of the gymnasium as she heard Kate calling out to her.

 

“Max. Max!”

 

Stopping, Max turned back to Kate as she ran up to Max, “Hey… If it makes you feel any better, my sister once posted one of my diary entries onto her facebook… It may have had some private information regarding a crush I had.”

 

“It’s not that, Kate…”

 

“It isn’t? Then what’s wrong,” Kate asked as the Chloe and Rachel walked outside as well.

 

‘Think Max,’ Max said to herself.

 

“Have you ever felt like you don’t belong somewhere Kate,” Max asked.

 

“Sometimes,” Kate said.

 

“I just… I feel like I don’t belong here. There are times I feel like I can walk on water… and times when I am at the bottom of the ocean… unable to pull myself out. When I came back… the nurses… the doctor… even Chloe and Rachel… they looked at me like I was ghost,” Max said.

 

Kate slowly walked up to Max as she continued to cry. Gently holding Max’s arm, Kate pulled Max in for a hug.

 

“Max… you aren’t a ghost, you’re just you,” Kate said as she broke from the embrace and stared at Max, “You have been through one of the most traumatic moments that anyone could have experienced and you came out of it with your head held high. You’re one of the strongest people I know… and I will always admire that about you.”

 

Max tearfully chuckled as she said, “If I’m one of the strongest people you’ve met, then you haven’t met many people.”

 

“Strength can be in different forms,” Kate chuckled, “Physically, I don’t know if you could even lift me up.”

 

The two started laughing together as Max wiped her eyes, “Oh God… I probably acted like a crazy person in there.”

 

“I’m sure that they understand,” Kate said as she looked at Chloe and Rachel, “Well… I think I’ll leave you to your girlfriends.”

 

“That sounds good,” Max smiled, “Thanks Kate.”

 

“Anytime Max,” Kate smiled back as she began to walk back inside.

 

‘I can’t let you die here…’

 

“Hey Kate.”

 

“Yes,” Kate asked as she turned back to Max.

 

“Are you planning on going back home this weekend,” Max asked.

 

“Well… I was considering it, why?”

 

“You should,” Max said.

 

‘Shit Max quick, improvise,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“I just know that your sisters would love to see you again, right?"

 

“It has been a while… maybe I will,” Kate smiled as she approached Rachel and Chloe, “She’s okay now.”

 

“Thanks,” Chloe said as Kate proceeded back inside.

 

As Kate passed them, the two began to walk towards Max.

 

“Hey,” Chloe said.

 

“Hey… sorry about inside,” Max said.

 

“Max… you don’t really think that you don’t belong here, do you,” Chloe asked.

 

Max’s silence was all the two needed for an answer.

 

“Well then… whatever part of your mind is telling you that, tell it to fuck off or I’ll do it for you,” Chloe said as she held Max’s hand.

 

“Ditto,” Rachel said as she held Max’s other hand.

 

“We’re the fucking Golden Trio,” Chloe said, “We don’t give a shit about anyone’s opinions about us. All that matters is that we stick together… no matter what.”

 

“If the world was burning to ash and glass and the only way to stop it was to kill one of you… then fuck the world,” Rachel said.

 

Before Max could say anything, Chloe’s phone buzzed. Breaking their triangle of hand holding to look at her phone, Chloe sighed.

 

“Max, your parents are here… we should probably get going,” Chloe said as she put her phone back into her pocket.

 

“Why don’t you go get Victoria,” Rachel suggested.

 

“Yup, be right back,” Chloe said as she ran back inside, leaving Rachel and Max alone.

 

“Hey um… I just wanted to apologize again for what happened,” Rachel said.

 

“Rachel…”

 

“Just know that I might happen to have a diary of my own in my dorm room. Maybe when I come back tonight to get some sleep, I might happen to bring it with me and you can look through it to find something to embarrass me, deal,” Rachel asked as she extended her hand to Max.

 

Max smiled as she shook Rachel’s hand and said, “Deal.”

 

The doors to the gymnasium opened again and the two saw Chloe and Victoria walking out in a small rush.

 

“Okay, is everyone ready,” Victoria asked.

 

“Yeah, I think so,” Rachel said.

 

“Wait,” Max said as she ran back into the gymnasium.

 

Seeing everyone just chatting about, Max said, “Everyone…”

 

Everyone immediately stopped and looked at Max.

 

“We have to get going… but I just wanted to thank you all for what you did for me. These last few months have been… indescribable as you can imagine. But seeing you all and what you did… I really appreciate it.”

 

Everyone shared either claps or cheers.

 

“I hope to see you all again soon,” Max said as she walked back out of the gym to see Victoria.

 

“Okay, let’s get moving,” Victoria said.

 

“To the Chase-mobile!”


“It’s just my car, Chloe,” Victoria sighed.

 

Location: Price Residence

Time: Morning/Day

 

The Chase-mobile pulled up to Chloe’s house and the four noticed the new vehicle in the driveway.

 

“Well… I guess this is where we part ways for now,” Victoria said.

 

“Yeah… wish us luck,” Rachel said.

 

“Let Stephanie and I know how it goes,” Victoria said.

 

“Oh trust me, you will,” Chloe said.

 

The three exited the car and began to approach the front door.

 

“Max, do you wanna do the honors,” Chloe asked.

 

“Sure,” Max said as she reached for the handle. Taking a deep breath, Max said, “Here goes nothing…”

 

Grabbing it and opening the door, the three looked inside and heard two new voices say, “Max!”

Chapter Text

Max opened the door and saw David and Joyce sitting at the table, enjoying some glasses of wine and bourbon with Ryan and Vanessa Caulfield, Max’s parents. Hearing the door open up, the four older parents looked towards the door and saw Max, Rachel, and Chloe standing there.

 

“Max,” Ryan and Vanessa shouted as they stood up from their chairs and ran over to Max.

 

“Hey you gu—,” Max managed to say before she was pulled in for a tight hug.

 

“Oh baby girl,” Ryan laughed, “You have no idea how much we missed you…”

 

“I missed you both too,” Max said as she returned the hug.

 

Rachel and Chloe walked inside of the house and saw the Caulfields embracing in a family, which put a smile on Rachel’s face… while Chloe just continued staring at the parents. Rachel saw the look Chloe gave and snuck her hand into Chloe’s and watched her girlfriend glance at her before finally forming a small grin on her face.

 

Vanessa broke from the embrace and asked, “How are you doing though?”

 

“I’m still getting used to everything. If Chloe and Rachel weren’t with me, explaining what’s been happening after… that, I think that I’d have gone insane or something,” Max said.

 

Vanessa and Ryan looked at the two, who either just stared at the parents or waved slightly.

 

“Well, we are glad to know that you are okay,” Vanessa smiled as she hugged Max again.

 

David clapped his hands and stood up before saying, “Well, now that the kids are back, how about we start grilling?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Ryan chuckled as he placed his arm around Max and began to guide her away, “Oh Max, you have no idea how long I have been thinking of how I’m gonna cook some of these steaks that Joyce got at the store.”

 

“You always say that, but you always go with the same thing,” Max said.

 

“Coated with salt and pepper, grilled to medium well, with that signature garlic butter,” Max and Ryan said in sync.

 

Chloe could not help but give a small exhale through her nose as she heard Max and Ryan laughing as they continued outside.

 

“Hey David, you mind pouring me another round of bourbon,” Ryan asked from outside.

 

“Only if you pay for it,” David chuckled as he grabbed the glasses and bottle before following Ryan and Max outside.

 

“I’ll get the table ready for dinner,” Joyce said as she went into the garage.

 

“I’ll be right back. I have to use the ladies room,” Vanessa chuckled.

 

Chloe’s smile vanished as she watched Vanessa turn back towards them and approach.

 

“Hello Mrs. Caulfield,” Rachel said.

 

“I would like to know where my daughter is currently sleeping,” Vanessa said, ignoring Rachel’s greeting.

 

“Same place she slept before you had her move to Blackwell,” Chloe said.

 

“You’re having my daughter, who was kidnapped and held against her will for six months, sleep in a cramped and dusty attic,” Vanessa asked.

 

Rachel quickly said, “Max said—”

 

“I am not speaking to you,” Vanessa said, refusing to even look at Rachel.

 

“As my girlfriend was going to say,” Chloe emphasized the word girlfriend, “Max has already said that she was fine with it.”

 

“That is likely because she is too kind to object and you are merely taking advantage of that,” Vanessa said.

 

Chloe’s eyes narrowed as she said, “If you’d like, I can talk with my mom about switching places with Max so that I can be in the attic and she can have my room.”

 

“Like I would have her sleep in that pot ridden den you call a room,” Vanessa said, “Well, it doesn’t matter. She’s not going to be here for much longer.”

 

With that, Vanessa proceeded upstairs to the ladies room, leaving Chloe and Rachel to themselves in the front entrance.

 

Chloe, grinding her teeth behind her lips, released an exhale through her nose as she felt Rachel tighten her hold on Chloe’s hand.

 

“Just a few hours,” Rachel whispered, “Let’s just behave and trust Max to try and convince her.”

 

“…I know,” Chloe said.

 

“Good, now let’s be a good girlfriends to Max by pretending to be her friend,” Rachel said as she pulled on Chloe’s hand and dragged her outside.

 

Location: Backyard

Time: Day

 

Max was sitting in one of the patio chairs, watching as her father and David were enjoying some small talk as they were grilling the steaks and chicken when she saw Chloe and Rachel walking outside and proceeding over to one of the farther corners of the backyard. Rachel and Chloe looked over to Max, who waved at them. The two responded by giving a wave back as Max saw her mom walking out of the house and approached her.

 

“Hey mom,” Max smiled.

 

Max’s mom did not respond. Instead, she just had a wide smile on her face as she approached and sat down next to her daughter.

 

“You okay,” Max asked.

 

“I’m better than okay Max,” Vanessa said as she held her daughter’s hand, “Now that I have you back. How are you?”

 

“I’m doing okay,” Max said as she looked over to Chloe and Rachel, “Like I said, I’m still trying to get used to… well, everything.”

 

“I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like, Max… I’m sorry,” Vanessa said.

 

“It wasn’t your fault, mom. You and dad couldn’t have known,” Max said.

 

“I keep saying that to myself… but… God knows how much your father and I blamed ourselves.”

 

“Everyone I’ve spoken with feels that way… especially Chloe and Rachel,” Max said.

 

Vanessa looked over towards Rachel and Chloe, who just waved, before saying, “Well… I suppose that girl should. Her family was in charge of looking after you.”

 

That comment did not land well with Max as she curled her toes tightly to avoid showing any negative reaction.

 

‘Think of something to change the subject,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“You know… I went to go see my friend, Kate Marsh.”

 

“Oh how is Kate,” Vanessa asked.

 

“She’s good. Since Blackwell cancelled the classes because of what happened, she’s planning on heading home and seeing her family,” Max said.

 

“Well, that’s good to hear. From what you’ve told me about her, she can push herself too hard sometimes. When we get back to Seattle, perhaps we can set up a get together with her family, yeah,” Vanessa asked.

 

“But what about Blackwell?”

 

“After what happened, I don’t want you anywhere near Blackwell.”

 

“But I still need to finish High School… a-and if I ask to come back to Blackwell, I’m sure that Principal Wells would give some form of financial aid for us.”

 

“I’m sure that every school will be scratching and clawing at one another to get you to come to them,” Vanessa leaned in and whispered, “Even Washington State.”

 

“But…”

 

“I’m sorry Max, but your father and I just don’t feel comfortable with you staying in Arcadia for multiple reasons,” Vanessa said.

 

Max looked down and sighed.

 

“Okay… I understand,” Max said.

 

“Well that’s good to hear,” Vanessa smiled.

 

“All right folks, the meat is ready to be served.”

 

“Oh Thank goodness, I’m starving,” Vanessa said as she and looked at Max, “Ready?”

 

“I’ll be right there,” Max said.

 

As her mother walked away, Max looked down at her hands before raising her arm and concentrating as she felt her time powers activate.

 

Max watched as the figures all moved in reverse, heard her conversation with her mom replaying in reverse, seeing David and Ryan having small talk… and then she began to hear it.

 

‘Let us die…’

 

Max gasped as her brain felt like it was tearing itself apart. Holding her head with her free hand, Max saw Rachel and Chloe suddenly turn into alternative versions of themselves, Rachel having a needle jammed into her arm while Chloe’s throat was wide open. Looking to David, she saw he had a gunshot wound right in between his eyes. They all continued moving in reverse, but they all stared at her, repeating the same phrase.

 

‘Let us die!’

 

Once she saw Ryan and David walking outside, Max finally ended her powers. After ending the rewind, Max saw that everyone was back to normal again. Looking down at her hand, Max thought, ‘That’s… new.’

 

“You okay sweetie?”

 

Max looked up to see her mother sitting next to her.

 

“What,” Max asked.

 

“I asked if you’re okay?”

 

“Y-yes, I’m fine,” Max said.

 

“You had one of those visions Joyce talked about, didn’t you,” Vanessa said.

 

“Yeah, something like that,” Max said.

 

“Well… Perhaps when we get back to Seattle, a change of scenery will help ease your visions,” Vanessa said.

 

“But what about Blackwell?”

 

“Blackwell? After what happened, I don’t want you anywhere near Blackwell. Besides, I’m sure that every school will be scratching and clawing at one another to get you to come to them,” Vanessa leaned in and whispered, “Even Washington State.”

 

Max then realized something…

 

‘I don’t need to stop her from taking me from Arcadia… I just need to stop her from taking me from Arcadia this week,’ Max thought to herself.

 

“You know… perhaps some time away from Arcadia could do me some good,” Max said.

 

“I think that is what’s best for all of us, Max,” Vanessa said as she held Max’s hand.

 

 “When did you plan on me leaving?”

 

“Well the plan was to have you come home with us by tomorrow morning after we take you to your doctor’s visit,” Vanessa said.

 

“Oh, did Joyce get a call,” Max asked.

 

“She said she got it while you were out,” Vanessa said.

 

“Well… can I at least have a few days to say goodbye to my friends? I know how cramped our car is and I don’t know if I’ll be comfortable sitting with multiple bags of stuff towering over and on me for seven hours.”

 

“Ugh Don’t even remind me. After we got the news, I kept trying to convince your father to rent a U-Haul when we got here, but he just kept saying ‘No, it’ll be fine. I’ll make it work,’” Vanessa rolled her eyes.

 

“Yeah… why don’t you guys head back with most of my stuff and David or Joyce can take me up to Seattle by the end of the week?”

 

“Hmm I don’t really like the idea of leaving you alone here… but since David is pretty trustworthy, I suppose I can discuss it with your father and the Prices. But I do not want you sleeping in that disgusting attic, you deserve far better than that.”

 

“I’ll talk to Joyce about it,” Max said.

 

Vanessa nodded as David yelled, “All right folks, the meat is ready to be served.”

 

“Oh thank goodness, I’m starving,” Vanessa said as she and looked at Max, “Ready?”

 

As Max stood up, she felt stumble a bit, which Vanessa noticed.

 

“Max, are you sure that you are okay?”

“Yes… just having a small headache is all,” Max said.

 

“Hey David,” Vanessa asked.

 

“Yes Ma’am,” David asked.

 

“Do you have any aspirin? Max is having a small headache,” Vanessa said.

 

“Medicine cabinet in the bathroom,” David said.

 

“Thanks David,” Vanessa said as she turned to Max and said, “Why don’t you run up and take some and I’ll save you a plate, yeah?”

 

Max nodded before jogging inside. Going up the stairs and into the bathroom, Max shut the door and thought about what happened.

 

‘What the hell was that,’ Max thought to herself as she stared at her hands, ‘I’m used to the nose bleeds and dizziness… but that was different…’

 

Hearing a knock on the door, Max said, “Yes?”

 

“Max? You okay in there?”

 

Her emotions quickly became more positive once she heard Chloe’s voice. Opening the door, Max pulled Chloe inside of the bathroom and hugged Chloe tightly.

 

“Whoa there! You okay? You’re not having a vision are you,” Chloe asked.

 

“No… just… dealing with my mom,” Max whispered as she placed her head on Chloe’s shoulder.

 

“Ah,” Chloe patted Max’s back, “What’s the situation?”

 

“Well… she wants me to come back to Seattle with them. No ifs, ands, or buts… not even yours,” Max said.

 

“…Dammit you knew I was gonna say that,” Chloe said.

 

Max heard the shakiness in her voice and looked to see Chloe’s eyes were getting irritated.

 

“Hey,” Max said as she placed a hand on Chloe’s cheek, “It isn’t completely bad. I managed to convince her into let me stay here for a days instead of a few hours…”

 

“I want you to stay. Period. Both of us do,” Rachel said.

 

“Then let’s make the most of it, yeah,” Max asked.

 

“What do you mean,” Chloe asked.

 

“Tomorrow, I have to go to the doctor’s for a check in. After that, we can get the truck back and head straight for Portland or the beach… anywhere but here. Think about it. You, Rachel, and I go along the coast, taking pictures, enjoying the beach and the city. Doesn’t that sound good?”

 

“Yeah I guess,” Chloe said.

 

“Trust me… everything is going to be fine,” Max smiled as she pecked Chloe’s cheek.

 

‘So long as we get the hell out of Arcadia before the eleventh that is…’

 

“Okay Max,” Chloe smiled.

 

“Good, now come on. I wanna have some of that steak,” Max said as she opened the bathroom door

 

“Oh you are definitely sharing that steak,” Chloe chuckled as she wiped her eyes.

 

“Fat chance,” Max said.

 

“Well in that case…”

 

Chloe pushed Max away from the stairs before running down them as Max yelled, “Chloe” and chased after her, enjoying the time Arcadia had left.

Chapter Text

Max was staring down at her plate of food, which consisted of half of a steak, some asparagus, and a chicken drumstick. Despite all of the food in front of her, Max did not feel hungry as she had other thoughts in her mind.

 

‘I saw them… they were like the visions I’ve been having. Are my visions happening because of my powers?’

 

“Max?”

Max looked up and saw her parents looking at her.

 

“You haven’t touched your food. You okay,” Ryan asked.

 

“Yeah… just still dealing with that headache,” Max said as she rubbed her head.

 

“You took the right amount, correct,” Vanessa asked.

 

“Two pills,” Max held up two fingers, “I took it just a couple minutes ago. I’ll be fine. Really.”

 

“Okay,” Vanessa said, “If you’re still feeling it after an hour. I’ll take you to the hospital, okay?”

 

“Thanks, but I’m fine. Really,” Max said.

 

Vanessa smiled as she went back to eating her food.

 

“Rachel, Chloe, how are you enjoying the food,” Joyce asked.

 

Max turned around and saw Rachel and Chloe were eating their food away at the couch. Chloe seemed like she was about to make a comment when Rachel quickly said,“It’s very good. Mr. Caulfield, what did you season it with,” Rachel asked.

 

“Oh you know… some spices,” Ryan said as he ate some more, “So Max, you ready to head to Seattle?”

 

“Well—”

 

“Max and I spoke about it earlier, and she has agreed to come back to Seattle,” Vanessa said.

 

“Wait what,” Rachel asked.

 

“Max, are you sure about that? I thought you wanted to stay in Arcadia,” Joyce said.

 

“I—”

 

“Max agrees that it would be best to distance herself from all the troubles that Arcadia has had on her,” Vanessa said.


“I didn’t say exactly that, but I did say that some time away might be good for me,” Max said.

 

“Regardless, Max will be coming home. However, she did point something out to me that did allow something of a compromise. Since our car would likely be uncomfortable for Max AND her belongings, would it be okay if we have Max stay here until the end of the week while we take most of her belongings back to Seattle,” Vanessa asked.

 

“Well, the Price house will always have an open door for Max. It’s up to her,” Joyce said.

 

“Couldn’t agree more,” David said.

 

“Well, that sounds like two yeses to me,” Ryan said.

 

“Great. All that is left to discuss is a matter of the bedding situation.”

“The bedding situation,” Joyce asked.

 

“My daughter is currently sleeping in a narrow attic after being someone’s hostage for the last six months. I find that unacceptable,” Vanessa said.

 

“I understand, Vanessa. If you would like, we can set up a futon in Chloe’s room,” Joyce said.

 

“Oh no, she won’t allow that,” Chloe said.

 

“Chloe,” Joyce said as she turned towards her daughter.

 

“Well, she already told me as much,” Chloe said as she turned to face the table, “Right, Mrs. C?”

 

“I merely expressed concern for my daughter’s health and I don’t think that sleeping in a room that reeks of pot is healthy for her,” Vanessa said.

 

“Oh for God’s sake, it was one time,” Chloe sighed.

 

‘Chloe doesn’t smoke pot in this reality? I guess if she’s still in school, I shouldn’t be surprised about not smoking drugs.’

 

“And it just takes one time for me to not trust you,” Vanessa said.

 

“Oh is it the drugs? Or is it something else,” Chloe said as she stood up and faced the table.

 

“Chloe,” Rachel said as she grabbed Chloe’s hand.

 

“I don’t like think I like your attitude,” Vanessa said.

 

“And I don’t think I like you,” Chloe said.

 

Vanessa chuckled as she looked at Joyce, “Nineteen years old and still has the maturity of a five year old.”

 

“Now hold on, Chloe has been trying to accommodate Max as best as she could with the time that she had,” Joyce said as she stood up, “And frankly, I do not appreciate you insulting my daughter’s intelligence.”

 

“I am not insulting your daughter’s intelligence. I am expressing my disappointment in her maturity. Maybe if she wasn’t involving herself with junkies and other trash,” Vanessa said as she looked at Rachel, “she would actually grow up and mature.”

 

“HEY,” Chloe yelled.

 

“All right, why don’t we all just take a step back,” Ryan said as he stood up.


As everyone around her began arguing, Max was right in the middle of it all, considering something she really didn’t want to do.

 

‘If I rewind and cause some distraction… maybe I can avoid this from escalating any further. But do I want to rewind again… after what I saw outside?’

 

As the argument continued on, Max came to a decision. Raising her hand, Max activated her powers and almost instantly, she felt headache intensify. Wincing from the pain, Max watched carefully as to not draw the headache on longer than usual. But as she continued rewinding, she saw the visions again.

 

All of them became alternate versions of themselves: David, Chloe, Rachel, Joyce, even her parents appeared as decaying ghosts to her. All of them, still moving in reverse, looked at Max and said various phrases.

 

‘Murderer…’

 

‘Max… let us die…’

 

‘We’re in pain!’

 

As the pain in Max’s head grew, the voices grew as well until she finally reached a point where Max could end her rewind powers.

 

“Max?”

 

Max looked up now and saw Joyce, David, Vanessa, and Ryan looking right back at her.

 

“You haven’t touched your food. You okay,” Ryan asked.

 

“Yeah… just still dealing with that headache,” Max said as she rubbed her head.

 

“You took the right amount, correct,” Vanessa asked.

 

“Yeah… I’m…”

 

As Max was in the process of speaking, she felt herself quickly growing overwhelmingly exhausted.

 

“Max,” Chloe asked.

 

Standing up from her chair, Max mumbled, “C…Chloe…”

 

And before she even finished Chloe’s name, Max collapsed.

 

“MAX,” Everyone yelled.

 

Location: Price Household

Time: Night

 

‘Don’t say that… I won't trade you,’ Max said.

 

‘But you already did… You see it as keeping me alive… I know it as keeping me from dying.’

 

‘No, stop it Chloe,’ Max said.

 

‘Shut up Max! You’re so fucking selfish, and I think you should just accept my fate… our fate…’

 

Max saw Rachel, David, Joyce, and everyone else walk up alongside Chloe.

 

‘Chloe…’

 

'Max… it’s time…’

 

‘No… NO!’

 

Max’s eyes shot open as she leaned up from where she was, panting lightly from the nightmare that she had. As soon as she even moved, she heard a voice ask, “Max?”

Max, realizing she was in Chloe’s room, turned to see her parents was sitting at the foot of Chloe’s bed.

 

“Thank God, I thought we were gonna have to take you back to the hospital,” Vanessa said as she jumped onto her bed and hugged Max tightly.

 

“What happened,” Max said.

 

“You tell us. One minute, you’re looking okay. Next minute, you’re panting and passed out. Vanessa almost took right to the hospital,” Ryan said as he placed a hand on Vanessa’s shoulder.

 

“Why didn’t you?”

 

“We called Dr. Matthews and he said that losing consciousness is not uncommon for people with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury. He will be expecting you to discuss what happened when you meet him tomorrow,” Vanessa said.

 

“Okay,” Max said as she rubbed her head.

 

“You took some aspirin for your head,” Vanessa asked.

 

“Two pills,” Max said as she made a two with her fingers.

 

“Okay,” Vanessa said as she cupped her daughter’s cheek.

 

Looking out of the window, Max saw that it was rather late, so she said, “Oh… how long was I out?”

 

“Just an hour or so. It’s strange, the sun was practically up and then it just became dark. Isn’t that odd,” Ryan asked.

 

“Yeah,” Max said as she looked out of the window, “Strange.”

 

“Well, we should be getting back to our hotel. We have to get up early if we’re gonna beat the traffic back to Seattle,” Ryan said.

 

“The Prices agreed to let me stay,” Max asked.

 

“Yes, they did. We also discussed your living situation and, while I do despise the idea of you living in this… disgusting room,” Vanessa shivered slightly, “you’ll be staying her until you come back to Seattle by next Friday. Just as we agreed upon.”

 

“What about Chloe,” Max asked.

 

“She agreed to sleep in the attic after we packed all of your belongings in the car,” Vanessa smiled before saying in a serious tone, “If she or her girlfriend tries anything or if you don’t feel comfortable here… let us know, okay? Just one call and I will have you home faster than you can say Arcadia Bay.”

 

“…Thanks, mom,” Max said.

 

“Come on, Ness. Let’s let our girl get some rest,” Ryan said.

 

Vanessa leaned in and kissed Max on the forehead before she said, “It’s so good to see you again Max… We’ll have a proper celebration when you come home okay?”

 

“Okay mom,” Max said as she forced herself to smile.

 

‘Mom… is this just an affect of changing fate? Or were you always like this,’ Max thought to herself.

 

Max laid back down as she heard her parents walk out of the room, down the stairs, say their goodbyes to at least Joyce and David, and then proceeded out of the front door. Then, from outside, Max heard the sound of a car starting, two honks, and then the sound of them driving away.

 

Almost as soon as she heard the car driving off, Max heard another set of noises leading up to the door before hearing a knock.

 

“Come in,” Max said.

 

The door opened and Chloe walked in.


“Oh thank fuck, you’re okay,” Chloe said as she ran up, hopped into the bed and kissed Max on the cheek.

 

“Was it that bad,” Max asked.

 

“Dude, you stood up and just collapsed. Rachel and I were so worried,” Chloe said.

 

“God… how did my parents react? Like honestly?”

 

“Well, once we heard from Dr. Matthews that you were likely going to be okay, your mom got all pissed at me. Said that it was cause I ‘had you trapped in the attic all night.’”

 

“If only they knew the truth, right,” Max asked as she cupped Chloe’s cheek.

 

“Yeah, I swear though, if she would have continued and Rachel hadn’t helped keep me calm, I was gonna lose it,” Chloe said.

 

“Where is Rachel?”

 

“She went back to her dorm room. Said that she was getting stuff ready for our trip. But I swear after today, I wonder what the weather is gonna be like.”


“Yeah, dad mentioned it. Something about the sun just setting instantly?”

 

“It was so fast, it was like a damn light switch, Max,” Chloe said.

 

“Well… if the world’s ending, I would gladly see it end with you and Rachel,” Max smiled.

 

“Oh Max Caulfield, the romantic,” Chloe sighed before she stood up, “Okay… well, I guess I should be… getting on up to my temporary bed… in the attic… alone… unless someone, oh I don’t know… someone who loves and cherishes me—”

 

“Shut up and get in the bed,” Max said.

 

Chloe smirked as she laid down next to Max and said, “Hey… um… I don’t know what you’ve been through. Like at all… but… if you need someone to talk to, you know you can talk to Rachel and I, right?”

 

Max smiled as she held Chloe’s hand, “I think you’re the only two I think I trust most.”

 

Chloe smiled back as she said, “Well… then let’s treat this last week like it’s our last, yeah?”

 

‘Oh Chloe… if you knew…’

 

“Yeah… I like that idea,” Max smiled.

 

“You better… cause for the next few days, it’s gonna be you, me, Rachel, beaches, Portland, and nothing but the road,” Chloe said as she shut her eyes.

 

Max just smiled as she watched one of her girlfriends fall asleep. Looking out into the darkness, Max thought to herself, ‘Victoria and Steph, Kate, Rachel, Chloe… Two days… I can’t save everyone… but I can save as many as I can…’

Chapter Text

Location: Price Household

Time: Morning

 

As the sun began to enter Chloe’s bedroom, Max slowly opened her eyes after having another set of strange dreams. Groaning, Max slowly leaned up to see Chloe on the floor just in front of the bed, seemingly packing something.

 

Hearing her girlfriend groan, Chloe looked up with a smile on her face as she said, “Morning sleepy head.”

 

“Hey,” Max said as she rubbed her eyes, “What time is it?”

 

“It’s not even eight yet. Don’t worry. David’s all set to take you to the hospital,” Chloe said as she stood up and sat beside Max, “Speaking of which, how are you doing?”

 

“I’m okay… had some strange dreams,” Max said.

 

“Yeah, I know. You were mumbling in your sleep,” Chloe said.

 

“Was I? Sorry,” Max said.

 

“Oh, no, you don’t have to apologize. I was just wondering if you wanna talk about it,” Chloe said.

 

“I wouldn’t even know how to describe it,” Max said.

 

“Well, whenever you figure out how to describe it, Rachel and I’ll be right here,” Chloe said as she placed an arm around Max’s shoulder.

 

“Thanks,” Max said as she leaned her head against Chloe’s shoulder.

 

“No problem,” Chloe smiled.

 

Looking towards the foot of the bed, Max asked, “What were you doing?”

 

“I was getting ready for our trip to Portland,” Chloe said as she stood up, “Got my bag packed, what little I have in terms of money is in my wallet, and my clothes are clean and ready to go. I even got your stuff packed.”

“Thanks,” Max smiled, “so where are we staying?”

 

“Rachel didn’t say. She just said that it’s gonna be a surprise,” Chloe said.

 

“I don’t know if I should be concerned or excited,” Max said.

 

“Well, that’s just Rach in a nutshell,” Chloe said.

 

The two started laughing before the two heard Joyce call out, “Chloe?”

“Yeah?”

 

“Is Max awake,” Joyce asked.

 

“Hello,” Max yelled.

 

“Okay. Just making sure cause you have your doctor’s appointment coming up.”

 

“Thank you,” Max said.

 

“Well, you heard the boss, get that boney ass into the shower,” Chloe said as she started pulling on Max’s arm.

 

“Okay, okay,” Max chuckled as she got up.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll pull out an outfit for you,” Chloe said.

 

“And Chloe, are you picking Rachel up, then Max? Or Max then Rachel,” Joyce asked.

“I’ll call her and see what time she’s gonna be ready to go,” Chloe said as she walked over to her desk and grabbed her phone.

 

4 Unread Messages

 

‘1 image attached’ — Steph

 

Opening the image, Chloe saw a selfie of Steph and Victoria driving. What shocked Chloe the most was seeing Victoria wearing casual clothes and… smiling? Widely?

 

‘Be careful Steph! Victoria never smiles! She’s some clone!’

 

After a few moments, Chloe received another text image. The image showed Victoria giving Chloe the middle finger. Smiling, Chloe continued onto the next person.

 

‘Hello Chloe, thanks for bringing Max to school the other day and for letting me talk to her. I hope that everything is okay with the three of you.’ — Kate

 

‘Oh, and please thank Max for me. I decided to head home and my parents said that since I was home for a while, we’re going to see my aunt in Montana.’ — Kate

 

‘I’ll let her know. Have fun in Montana.’ — Chloe

 

Going to the last text group, Chloe saw that it was from Max’s father.

 

‘Good morning, Chloe. Vanessa and I are wondering how our daughter is doing this morning.’ — Ryan

 

‘She’s fine.’ — Chloe

 

‘We would like to speak to her when she is available.’ — Ryan

 

Chloe rolled her eyes as she went to her contacts and called Rachel.

 

Location: Blackwell Academy

Time: Morning

 

Hearing her phone buzzing, Rachel opened her eyes and let out a deep yawn as she leaned up from her bed. Grabbing her phone, she composed herself and answered the phone.

 

“Hello, this is Rachel Amber,” Rachel said.

 

‘Why hello, Rachel Amber. How are you doing today?’

 

Rachel chuckled as she heard Chloe speaking robotically.

 

“Good morning Chloe,” Rachel said as she got out of bed, “What’s up?”

 

‘Just checking in.’

 

“How’s Max?”

 

‘Taking a shower before her appointment.’

 

“Oh yeah, she still has that,” Rachel asked.

 

“Yeah, David’s taking Max to her appointment and is taking me to pick up the truck before we head out to Portland. I was just wondering if you wanted me to grab the car, then you? Or Max then you?’

 

“Let’s see,” Rachel said as she looked at her room, “Bag’s already packed, homework is done ahead of time, all I need is a shower… yeah, why don’t you pick me up and we can surprise Max?”

 

‘Okay, sounds good,’ Chloe said.

 

“See you soon then,” Rachel said before hanging up the phone and walking towards her closet.

 

Grabbing her shower supplies, Rachel walked out into the hallway to see Dana and Juliet were talking in the hallway when they noticed her.

 

“Hey Rach,” Dana said.

 

“Hey,” Rachel said.

 

“How’s Max,” Juliet asked.

 

“She’s going back to the hospital for a check in… other than that, well, she’s as well as can be expected…”

 

“I can only imagine… I still can’t believe that Jefferson was the one who took her,” Juliet said.

 

“Well not only that, but Nathan was the one who drugged her,” Dana said.

 

“Oh yeah! Has Chloe’s stepdad said anything about him,” Juliet asked.

 

“David’s trying to keep this stuff discreet… for Max’s sake, you know?”

 

“Oh yeah, of course… sorry,” Dana said.

 

Rachel saw how they were dressed and asked, “You two heading somewhere?”

 

“Zach’s got a football game in Salem tomorrow, so we’re gonna head over a day early and have a girls’ day,” Juliet said.

 

“How about you? Any plans now that Max is back,” Dana asked.

 

“Yeah, we’re gonna head to Portland for a couple of days… enjoy the time we have left anyways,” Rachel mumbled the last part.

 

“What did you say,” Dana asked.

 

“Hm? Oh... nothing. Anyways, I have to get going. Have fun in Salem,” Rachel said as she proceeded down the hallway.

 

Dana and Juliet looked at one another before just shrugging it off and continuing their conversation.

 

Location: Price Household

Time: Morning

 

“Are you excited to be going on your little vacation, Chloe,” Joyce asked as she was cooking something on the stove as Chloe leaned against the doorframe.

 

“You mean Max’s going away party,” Chloe asked.

 

“Chloe, you know as well as I do that Max going back to Seattle is not the end of the world,” Joyce said.

 

“I know, it’s just… we just got her back and now I have to say goodbye again,” Chloe said as she crossed her arms.

 

Turning around and seeing how upset Chloe was, Joyce turned off the stove and walked to pull her daughter in for an embrace, “Oh my baby girl… It’s gonna be okay. You three are gonna stay connected. You always do. And in half a year, when she graduates, I bet she’s gonna drive right back here to continue where the three of you left off, yeah?”

 

“…I guess,” Chloe said.

 

“And I know. Now, Max is gonna go to this appointment and then I want the three of you to enjoy these last few days like they’re your last days on earth, yeah?”

 

“Okay mom,” Chloe said.

 

“There we go,” Joyce said as she stroked her daughter’s hair, “Now then… I made your favorite.”

 

“Eggs and Bakey,” Chloe asked.

 

“With extra Bakey,” Joyce said.

 

“Oh I love you mom,” Chloe said as she broke from the embrace.

 

“Now, why don’t you go sit at the table and I’ll bring you a plate,” Joyce said.

 

Chloe sat down and watched as her mom fixed her a plate and brought it over and sure enough, there was twice as much bacon.

 

“I’ll go see how David’s doing,” Joyce said as she patted Chloe’s shoulder and walked off.

 

 

As Joyce proceeded up the stairs, Chloe staying at the table, eating some bacon, eggs, and toast, when she heard Joyce say, “Well, don’t you look adorable, Max.”

 

“Thanks. Where’s Chloe?”

“Downstairs. I saved you some food, but I suggest you hurry before Chloe eats it all,” Joyce said.

 

Hearing footsteps coming from the staircase, Chloe looked up and almost choked on her food as she saw Max in her new outfit. Max was wearing an aqua splash patio dress with white leggings underneath.

 

“Holy shit Max, you look adorable,” Chloe said as she stood up.

 

“Thanks… It was just something that stuck out when looking at what was packed up,” Max blushed.

 

“Well, don’t just stand there like a mannequin. Grab a seat and get some food in you before the appointment,” Chloe said.

 

Max quickly walked into the kitchen, grabbed her food, and sat down beside Chloe. As the two began eating, Max noticed the irritation in Chloe’s eyes and asked, “You okay?”

 

“Huh? Oh… yeah. Just uh… you know…”

 

Max reached over and held Chloe’s hand before smiling, “Hey… that’s the future. Let’s enjoy right now, yeah?”

 

Max watched as Chloe smiled at her and said, “Yeah, I know.”

 

Chloe watched as Max’s eyes widened slightly and the grip on her hand got noticeably tighter, which meant one thing.

 

“Max,” Chloe asked.

 

Tears suddenly started cascading down Max’s cheeks as she said, “Chloe…”

 

“It’s okay Max, I’m right here,” Chloe said.

 

But Max did not see this Chloe holding her hand. It was Chloe from the universe where she was in the crash.

 

‘You coward,’ The vision said.

 

“Chloe… I tried… you know I did…”

 

“Of course I know that,” Chloe said as she slowly placed her free hand on top of Max’s, “It’s okay Max…”

 

‘You should have let me die…’

 

“But I tried so hard… and I got you back… you and Rachel,” Max said.

 

“Yes you did. You got both Rachel and I back,” Chloe said as she slowly moved her hand to Max’s shoulder.

 

The vision grabbed Max’s shoulders and said, ‘Stop making us suffer Max…’

 

Max closed her eyes and shook her head, “I never wanted any of this to happen…”

 

“I know Max,” Chloe said as she slowly wrapped her free hand around Max’s back.

 

The vision wrapped her other hand around Max and said, ‘Why did you go back…?’

 

“I just couldn’t live anymore with out you Chloe… That’s why I went back…”

 

Slowly pulling Max in for an embrace, Chloe held Max for a short while.

 

‘Torturer… coward… okay… It’s okay. I’m right here Max,” Vision Chloe’s haunting and cold voice was slowly replaced by this universe’s Chloe’s soothing words of comfort.

 

As Chloe continued repeating the words, she felt Max wrap her free arm around Chloe.

 

“Hey there,” Chloe smiled as she broke from the embrace and looked at Max.

 

Max looked down at Chloe’s hand and quickly let go of it before saying, “S-Sorry…”

 

“Max, you don’t ever have to be sorry about this stuff,” Chloe said as she shook her hand back and forth, “You got a mean grip though. I’ll give you that.”

 

“Well… I did live here with David for a while. I guess I developed hard grips,” Max said.

 

“Yeah…”

 

As Max began eating, Chloe slowly joined her. But as Chloe sat there, she began to think about what Max said when she suddenly heard, “All right, are you two ready?”

 

Looking towards the hallway, Chloe saw David was in his police uniform and standing by the door.

 

As Max quickly finished her food and walked it over to the sink, Chloe walked her dish to the counter and placed the rest in a Tupperware container.

 

“Not hungry Chloe,” Max asked.

 

“Huh? Oh yeah, I’m gonna bring it with,” Chloe said as she grabbed a fork and placed it inside the container.

 

The two met up with David, who was looking at his watch before he asked, “Ready?”

 

“Yup,” Chloe said.

 

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Max said.

 

With that, the three walked out towards David’s car and headed off to their multiple locations.