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I'm Sorry, Do I Know You?

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An insufferable buzzing noise can be heard in the background as she begins to come out of the comfortable confines of deep sleep. A sound that she quickly recognizes to be her alarm clock. Rudely informing her that it’s, unfortunately, that time of the day again; time for her to wake the fuck up.

Chloe lets out a groan as she rolls onto her side and lazily flops her arm on top of the alarm to get it to shut the hell up. It takes her about two or three tries to finally silence the damn thing. And she can’t help but feel a sense of relief wash over her once the buzzing noise has finally stopped.

She then begins to open her eyes. The first thing she notices upon opening them is the blinding light that is currently making its way through the small open slits of her window blinds, forcing her to squint until her eyes can adjust to the new light levels.

The next thing that she notices is that the blonde girl who had spent all of the previous night curled up against her backside is now gone without a trace.

Her heart sinks a little at the realization. However, she can’t say that she’s very surprised as, unfortunately, this is what seems to be becoming the new normal for the two of them.

Rachel is most likely still angry at her for blowing up on her a little while back. But, what are you supposed to do when you find out that your girlfriend has been hiding so much shit from you for so long?

Her hands instinctively ball themselves up at the memory of her last fight with Rachel. It was brutal. The image of both girls yelling and screaming at each other with tears running down their cheeks makes it's way into her mind.

She can instantly start feeling her anger begin to rise at the memory.

That is until an image of Rachel running out of the apartment with tears and mascara streaming down her face comes clear into her mind. This causes her to start to feel remorseful pretty quickly as, if she has one weakness, it’s got to be Rachel crying.

She then shakes her head and does her best to clear herself of those thoughts. I have shit I need to do today. I can worry about that shit later.

She manages to successfully clear herself of her thoughts by muttering various curses under her breath as she throws herself out from under the comfort of her bedsheets

She then begins the grueling task of preparing herself for the undoubtedly long day she is going to have ahead of her.

Chloe manages to rather successfully keep herself from thinking too much about all the random bullshit that's been going on in her life by distracting herself with getting ready for work.

Well that and maybe she indulges herself in smoking just a tiny bit of weed.

She’s almost done with her microwave food breakfast when she feels her phone vibrate in her pocket.

“Great, some asshole is trying to get a hold of me. Better not be my mom trying to make me come home again.” She grumbles as she fishes her phone from out of her back pocket.

She unlocks her phone and swipes through it until she reaches her messenger app where she sees that she has a text from… Rachel?

The last time Rachel randomly texted her was before their big fight which was almost a month ago now. Why the fuck would Rachel be texting her now?

Rachel 💔: hey Chloe :)

Rachel 💔: I was wondering if you could help me out by swinging by Blackwell real quick and helping me move some of my stuff into my dorm before you go to work.

Rachel 💔: Would that be okay?

Oh, She had completely forgotten that the next school year was starting soon.

"Fuck Blackhell and it’s bullshit ‘you have to live in our shitty dorms while you go to school here’ policy." She mutters.

She feels her anger beginning to build again as she remembers her first and last year of school there. To say that it was an absolute shit show would be putting it lightly.

She once again manages to shake herself from her thoughts before they are able to escalate any further.

Getting all pissed off about all of the random bull shit that’s happened to her is reserved for the weekends when she doesn’t have work to deal with.

Once she is sure that her mind is clear, she is finally brought back to the issue at hand. What is she going to do about Rachel?

“Why should I even help her when the only time that she bothers to talk to me now is for my help or for sex.” She thinks angrily to herself.

She grumbles and argues with herself for what feels like an eternity as she subconsciously gets into the front of her worn-down truck before beginning to drive off towards Blackwell.

She's too caught up in thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong to realize what exactly she's doing.

The most pressing worry is that by driving over to Blackwell, she runs the risk of running into her stepfather again.

And this wouldn't seem like a big deal to most people, but considering that her last encounter with him ended with both of them yelling and screaming at each other for around 30 minutes straight, the thought of running into him again makes her knuckles turn white as her grip on the steering wheel tightens.

It's just then that she finally picks up on the fact that she's currently behind the wheel of her car. The realization of what she's doing dawns on her finally and she lets out an annoyed groan.

"Fucking damn it!" She mutters to herself. "Rachel's going to fucking owe big time for this one."

-

Chloe pulls into the Blackwell parking lot and quickly takes a deep breath to steady herself.

She then takes a careful look around to ensure that her stepdouche isn't going to jump out from anywhere.

"It's okay Chloe. It's not like you haven't gotten past David before. Of course, you've also gotten caught by him before…"

She pulls her keys out of the ignition before unlocking the car door and pushing it open. She then keeps her head down and swiftly makes it all the way to the entrance to the girl's dormitories where she finds a certain blonde girl waiting for her expectantly.

"Hey Rachel," She says, managing a polite smile that she hopes is covering up just how much of an emotional wreck she is currently.

"You smell like weed," Is the girl's instant response.

This angers Chloe but she doesn't allow it to show. "I might have smoked a little just before I came here but don't worry. It wasn't because of you or anything."

That was a partial lie. It was mostly because of Rachel but also because of some other shit too.

And judging from the incredulous look that the blonde is currently sending her way, she's all too aware of that lie. However, Chloe can't help but let out a sigh of relief when Rachel doesn't choose to push it any further.

"Whatever, my parent's car is over there. I have a bunch of bags and stuff in the back," Rachel says before pointing a finger behind Chloe towards the car in question.

Chloe turns around and quickly spots the vehicle. The girl's parents are nowhere in sight which is probably for the best all things considered.

She looks more closely at the car and thinks that she can see the tips of what looks like luggage peeking out over the rear window.

Rachel begins making her way over while Chloe follows closely behind her. Chloe makes sure to keep her eyes peeled for any sign of her stepfather on the way over.

Thankfully, they make it to the vehicle without issue and as soon as the trunk is open, Chloe grabs whatever she can and swiftly makes her way back through the parking lot and into the safety of the girl's dormitories.

Her stepfather won't be in here unless someone calls him in here for some reason. And there's a very slim chance of that happening considering how early in the morning it is... well, early for a bunch of high schoolers at least.

Chloe lets out a sigh of relief as she begins to feel the safest she's felt since pulling up to this accursed facility.

"Chloe! Running around like that is just going to make you look even more suspicious," Rachel says as she makes her way through the door to the dormitories. Carrying what looks to be a fairly expensive telescope in her arms.

Rachel has always been super interested with anything to do with the stars, the sun, or really just anything to do with space in general. That's one of the reasons why Chloe took her to the old lighthouse during their first date together. So they could be up there and watch the stars together.

She shrugs at Rachel despite knowing that she's right before waiting for her to walk past her and lead the way to her dorm room.

The pair walk down a couple of long hallways and up a flight of stairs seeing absolutely no signs of life along the way. Which made perfect sense considering that it was only 6:30 AM currently.

What exactly possessed Rachel to start moving in this early is beyond her. However, she has a couple of theories and her most prominent theory is one that she hopes is incorrect.

"She's not trying to get away from me is she? Could I really blame her if she was?" She wonders worriedly.

She then hears the familiar click of a door unlocking and turns her attention to Rachel who is already halfway through what is presumably the doorway into her room.

Chloe rushes forward and manages to get a hold of the door just before it swings closed and tugs it back open.

She steps inside and instantly glares at Rachel who is currently transfixed on making sure her telescope is set up properly.

"What the hell was that Rachel?" She asks angrily.

Rachel's attention turns to her momentarily before she seems to shrug and turn her attention back towards her telescope. "You were lost in your own thoughts again. Was just trying to bring you back to reality," The blonde replies dismissively.

Chloe stares at the other girl, feeling pleasantly surprised; so Rachel's actually been paying attention to her after all!

Well, at least enough attention to be able to read her mind. Regardless, Chloe decides it best to just drop the subject before she has a chance to subject herself to any of Rachel's notorious mind games.

"Where do you want me to put these things?" She asks, holding up the two pairs of luggage that she's carrying.

Rachel looks up at her and motions to put them by her bed before turning her attention back towards her telescope which Chloe is sure has to be set up by now, which can only mean one thing.

Rachel's actively trying to avoid her. Well, at least trying to avoid her as much as she possibly can given the current circumstances.

Either that or she's just trying to make it seem like she doesn't care.

Both possibilities are equally as painful so Chloe decides that she's just going to focus on the task at hand for the moment and not put too much thought into overanalyzing Rachel's actions and trying to figure out what exactly they mean.

She waits patiently near the door as Rachel "finishes up" with her telescope.

Chloe's hopeful that maybe once she's done she'll be forced to look at her.

But, once Rachel's attention leaves the telescope she instantly pulls her phone out of her pocket and stares at nothing but the lit-up screen as she walks right past Chloe and directly up to the door to her room before pushing it open.

Chloe lets out a disappointed sigh as she follows after her.

Upon exiting the room, the pair are instantly greeted by the first sign of human life that they've encountered since entering the dormitories.

Rachel doesn't pay the other human much mind but Chloe decides to take a moment to look at the girl. Maybe if she's lucky she'll end up being a hella nice distraction from all of Rachel's bullshit.

The first thing Chloe notices is the long bright pink hair that is cascading down the girl's back that stops about halfway down.

The second thing she notices is the skin-tight white tank top and skinny ripped jeans that leave little about the girl's body to the imagination.

The third and final thing she notices is the familiar pattern of freckles combined with the familiar blue eyes that she has only ever seen on one other person… her childhood best friend.

"Max?"

At first, Chloe isn't sure that the other girl heard her as she mumbled the other girl's name very quietly. However, when the girl turns around to face her with an irritated look on her face, Chloe can't help but feel like she's seeing a ghost. A ghost who has stolen her best friend's face and replaced the rest of her with someone entirely new.

Chloe can't help but wonder. Who the hell is this girl and what has she done with her best friend?

"I'm sorry. Do I know you?" The stranger asks as she turns around to face Chloe, very clearly wanting to move on from the conversation.

Chloe is unable to stop herself from analyzing the rest of this girl's new appearance. Yup. That's very clearly Max. She decides. But what in the fucking hell happened to her?

Now that Chloe was face to face with the girl, she was able to notice even further changes to the girl's appearance.

Most notable of which had to be the fact that Max now had hella piercings.

Almost as soon as the girl had turned around Chloe was instantly able to make out a small nose ring and multiple piercings located on the girl's ears that were previously concealed by the girl's long pink hair.

Chloe's gaze made its way down the girl's body and she was quick to notice that Max also now had hella tattoos.

She was able to see the tips of some sort of chest piece poking out from the top of the girl's tank top.

She was also quick to spot at least 3 different tattoos that snaked their way along the girl's arms.

However, Max's new hella weird and kinda hot appearance wasn't the only thing that Chloe had been taking note of.

Max... she doesn't even recognize me. Chloe is unsure if she should feel relieved or heartbroken. Maybe both?

Of course, the last time the two had seen each other was when Chloe was still known to the world as [redacted] and she looked very much like the boy that everyone seemed to think that she was.

But should that really be an excuse to not recognize your childhood best friend that you spent almost every second of every day with?

Looking on the brighter side of things, at least this was confirmation that she passed.

Or at least confirmation that she passed to people who hadn't had the privilege to witness all of the stages of her transition happen right in front of them.

Being trans in a small town where almost everyone knows everyone and news travels around at the speed of sound fucking sucks.

Chloe shifts on her feet uncomfortably. This is not the conversation that she wanted to be having today.

Hell, up until now she was pretty sure that this was a conversation that she would probably never have gotten the chance to have.

Because honestly, what are the chances of your ex-best friend that you haven't seen or heard any word from in the past 5 years rocking up right outside of your girlfriend's dorm room at just a little before 7 AM in the morning while you're just ever so slightly buzzed out on weed?

Apparently, the chances were pretty fucking good.

She realizes then that she's been just standing there awkwardly for far too long and turns her attention back towards the girl who is impatiently awaiting a response.

Chloe smiles nervously before pushing herself to continue the conversation to the best of her ability. "Yeah, um... we went to middle school together."

Chloe watches curiously as the girl, who had been what could best be described as completely void of emotion up until this point, eyes widened. Albeit only for a split second, before the girl's cold, calculating persona made its way back to the forefront.

It was kinda weird. For a split second, Chloe was able to see a face that she recognized - the face of her best friend - before it was replaced by the face of this girl who she has already decided she definitely knows nothing about.

"Is that so? Well in that case I can't say that I remember you," The strange girl replies dismissively as she turns her attention back to opening up the door to her room.

And this is probably the girls first time doing so judging by the fact that she has to fiddle with the keycard for far longer than she should have had to before the sound of the door clicking open could be heard.

Chloe should probably have said something further but her mind was still buzzing. And by the time she has come back to her senses, the girl has already locked herself inside of her room.

"Damn it," She mutters through clenched teeth.

"Is something wrong?" A voice that is unmistakably Rachel's asks from behind.

"I just ran into Max. She didn't recognize me," Chloe deadpans. Clearly still left in some form of shock from the chance encounter.

"THE Max? As in the 'I left you behind and didn't bother to call or text you back for 5 years' Max?" Rachel asks as a newfound wave of righteous anger starts to make its presence clear in the blonde girl's tone.

"Oh, well how sweet. It turns out that Rachel does still care about me a little after all." Is what Chloe wants to say. But she decides that it's probably for the best that she keeps that thought to herself for the time being.

"Yup. That's the one," She replies calmly. Apparently too calmly for Rachel's liking as Chloe can now begin to feel the pent-up anger that is currently brewing in the other girl start to radiate from the blonde.

"Well, what the fuck is she doing here?" The blonde asks with venom in her voice.

"Beats me," Chloe replies with a dismissive shrug. "She's probably just here for school or something seeing as she's moving her stuff into the dorms just like all of the other students who attend here do."

"You're probably right. But why would she come back to Arcadia now after living away for so long? Something doesn't add up," Rachel pauses before throwing a contemplative look Chloe's way.

"If I had to guess, the real reason that she came here is you."

"Me?" Chloe asks incredulously.

"Think about it. Your old best friend comes back to the small town that she's had absolutely nothing to do with for over 5 years now. Either she got sucked into the trap that is Blackwell Academy or she's here to see you and try to make up with you," Rachel replies insistently.

Chloe takes a second to soak all of that in before furrowing her brow in confusion. "That seems a little far-fetched to me, Rach. I highly doubt that she's suddenly gone from avoiding me for 5 years to moving to this shithole of a town just to have a chance to talk to me."

"Okay, look. Whatever the case is, the circumstances of her move here are definitely suspicious. It can't just be a coincidence. That's just waaay too unlikely," Rachel relents somewhat, now searching for some sort of middle ground.

And as much as Chloe hates to admit it, she can't help but agree. "It's definitely a little suspicious." She agrees hesitantly

Rachel doesn't say anything further. However, once Chloe takes a moment to analyze the blonde's features, she deduces that she's pondering something.

Chloe's deduction can only be assumed to be correct as the blonde's lips twist into a mischievous grin; sending a small shiver down Chloe's spine.

"I don't know what the hell kinda dumb shit she's just planned out inside that fucked up head of her's. But there's absolutely no way that it's anything good."

"Hey what're you thinking about Rach?" She asks in as curious of a tone as she can muster.

"Hmm? Oh, nothing really. Just remembering a meme that Trevor sent me last night," She replies dismissively, her smile turning into one a lot tamer and into one that could normally be expected of the blonde.

She knows that Rachel's response is complete and utter bullshit. But she also knows that calling Rachel out on her lies is just going to result in yet another argument between the two of them.

And she wasn't about to start a fight with her in the middle of Blackhell's dormitories where everyone - including her stepdouche - will see her.

"Care to share with the rest of the class?" She asks jokingly while throwing on her best forced smile.

It seems to do the trick as Rachel's smile widens as moves closer to Chloe until their faces are just inches apart. She then lifts up one of her fingers to tuck a piece of stray hair behind Chloe's ear.

"How about we finish moving all of my stuff into my dorms before Queen Bitch wakes up and then we can hang out in my room for the rest of the day after. Sound good?"

Chloe can't help but feel a little bit frustrated as she knows exactly what Rachel's trying to do.

Rachel knows that she knows that she's lying to her. And as a result, Rachel's now trying to give her something to look forward to in a last-ditch effort to make Chloe forget in a last ditch effort at concealing her lie.

And Chloe's not about to let herself fall for it.

But… it's also been so long since they've been able to properly hang out together. And as much as Chloe hates Rachel for lying to her so much for so long... she can't help but miss the blonde's company.

Sure they still slept in the same bed - most of the time at least - but that didn't mean all that much when they still barely talk to each other and almost completely ignore one another until it's finally time to hit the hay.

She wants her girlfriend back. But more importantly, she wants her best friend back. Her new best friend; the one who didn't leave her behind for 5 years.

"Sure thing Rach. Just let me call in sick from work real quick," She replies with a smile while also resisting the urge to hit herself in the back of the head for letting herself fall into another one of Rachel's obvious traps again.

"Alrighty then. You know the drill," Rachel says while gesturing towards the door leading back to the parking lot.

Chloe simply nods and leads the way. Keeping the thoughts of an unfamiliar pink-haired girl who is wearing her best friend's face at the forefront of her mind.

And this is where her thoughts stay as she moves suitcases and random large objects from the back of Rachel's parent's car into what would be Rachel's new room for the next 4 months as she goes into her first semester of senior year.

She isn't sure what exactly has become of her best friend. She would need some more information if she was to truly figure that out.

However, if there's one thing that's for certain, it's that Max is clearly not the same girl that Chloe once knew in her adolescence.

And as to what exactly caused such a drastic change in Max to cause her to want to alter her appearance and - judging from her brief interaction with Max earlier - personality so heavily. Well... that was for Chloe to find out... at a later date of course.

Because right now she was comforably drifting off in Rachel's dorm room, curled up around the blonde who she still held mixed feelings for.

"For once in my life can things just please not be so fucking complicated for once?" She wishes desperately as she drifts off to sleep.

As she dreams, she wonders how the hell her life could feel so right yet so outrageously fucked up all at the same time