Having a new plan sparked an increased ambition in Chloe’s mind. She loved the way her freckled fiancé’s brain worked and was ready to follow her to the ends of the earth regardless of the outcome. They would be together forever no matter what happened, and that was really all that mattered until a few days ago when they discovered the need to save the life of their future daughter. It was the only reason the engaged couple would jeopardize their perfect life and put all they had worked for on the line. They tried forward-jumping to the exact moment when the little girl would be shot, but those attempts failed miserably. This new path seemed to be the answer they were looking for, yet Chloe was still unsure how everything would work out. Her uncertainty was unimportant, as she believed in the love she shared with her best friend. Max’s confidence in the idea filled the girl with a budding sense of hope.
“Can we just hold each other for a few more minutes?” The younger girl asked, pulling her partner back into her chest after they had just released a lengthy hug. Chloe didn’t mind, of course. Feeling the warmth from the love of her life’s body was always comforting and special to her. The companions had touched each other thousands of times in the past, but it didn’t matter. Each new graze felt exhilarating with an intoxicating and thrilling awe.
“Yeah, Maxter, we can take as long as we need. I’ll hold you forever if that’s what you want.” If the world were ending, she would sit on the roof and hold her perfect person as everything burned around them without a care or worry in her mind.
“Rachel… told me something, babe, and you should know the incredible news. I considered waiting until this shit was done, but I think now is the best time.” She paused in what seemed like an intended dramatic effect. “So, are you ready for the most terrific news you’ve ever heard?” The corners of Max’s mouth were curled upward, and her eyes opened widely. An adorably eager expression shone on her beaming face.
“Dammit, Max. Don’t you dare tease me. Let’s hear it.”
“Well,” the brunette began, “you know how deeply we’ve been connecting, and how we literally merged into one… uhm, being? Whatever that was, something amazeballs happened. I guess I sorta suspected it at the time after seeing our daughter. She looks like a mix of me AND you. The only way that’s possible, without some bio-scientific mixed up in a lab shit, is if she was purely half me and half you… and she is both of us; she’s the perfect combination.
“Oh, fuck. Are you saying what I think you’re saying, you amazingly beautiful bitch!?” The older girl’s heart was racing. She figured she knew what Max was going to say next, but her mind demanded to hear the words come from her soulmate’s mouth.
“We’re pregnant, Chlo. Our connection somehow created life. I’m not the best at sciencey shit, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the most typical way to conceive.” Chloe noticed a goofy yet endearing smile on her fiancé’s face and she couldn’t resist grinning back. It was too early to physically tell she was pregnant by just looking at her, but she seemed to be radiating with life.
“Wowser,” the taller girl chirped, borrowing one of her partner’s favorite words. She lifted her future bride in the air clasping her arms around her body grabbing both butt cheeks in the process and spinning her around in excitement. “I love you sooooo much, Max! Our love is so perfect. Goddamn, I’m lucky to be able to share this with my best friend.” Her delightful laughter bounced around, echoing throughout the dark space.
“It’s not luck, babe, it’s…”
Cutting the pregnant girl off, her fiancé threw both arms up over her head and proclaimed, “Destiny!” The girls’ magnetic pull drew their mouths immediately together for a quick yet loving peck. Withdrawing, Chloe stared at the cute girl’s soft lips as if they were the most precious things in the world. “Dammit, Max, everything is coming together. I just know we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. Being with you on the most important journey of our life is special… and it’s magical.” She looked up and met the girl’s caring clear blue eyes. “I know, I’m goopy as fuck, whatever. So, let’s finish this thing because I’m ready to spend some alone time with you and get everything back on track.”
“I sure hope you don’t change your attitude when I’m a huge gross preggo monster in a few months.”
“No fucking way, dude. It’s guaranteed you’ll only get sexier.” Chloe was getting turned on by the idea of her partner carrying their child for some reason. Everything about the brunette amazed and mesmerized her. Now that their daughter was forming inside her belly, she was even more attracted to her fiancé, if that was even a possibility.
Both girls were the only child in their families. Neither Max nor Chloe had any siblings, so babies were rarely around them when they were growing up. The idea of learning how to feed a baby, change diapers, and all the responsibilities that come with having a child was terrifying to the older girl. But with her soulmate by her side she knew it would just be another fun and exciting journey for Long Max Silver and Captain Bluebeard.
“Aww, I love you, babe. Yeah, let’s focus on figuring this out. If we put out heads together, we can find something we can use.” Max looked into the blackened distance, then turned back towards Chloe. “Let me ask you a question. When we opened the window and saw our wedding, what were you thinking about when we unplugged our powers? Like, what was going on in your mind?”
“First of all, I was panicky and scared as shit. But through all of that, I just thought about us being happy, nothing in particular. I guess with the wedding being so close, it was on my mind too.” She wasn’t hiding anything, she just worried that their wedding day wouldn’t be as special as it should be. Max deserved only the best, and she was concerned that something would go wrong. It had been on her mind much more than she let on.
“That’s it then. I was thinking the exact same thing, and I believe we created a window to see the happiest moment of our lives. Maybe if we concentrate, we can do the same thing with other moments. What do you think?”
“Together we can do anything. It’s a helluva plan, and it’s gonna work.” She enjoyed watching Max being assertive and self-assured.
“Then let’s get started.” The girls stood side by side, and weaved one arm through the other’s, hooking at the elbow bend. Their eyes met and confirmed with confident grins and nods they were both ready. “This time, don’t let go unless you have to. Focus on me and think about being happy together. I’ll focus on you and do the same. I have a really good feeling about this, Chlo. Oh, and let it rip; don’t hold anything back.”
“Mmm, I love it when you get all bossy. Wait, are you sure, Max? I’m worried we might…”
“I’m sure. Trust me.” The younger girl’s confidence felt like a beacon of strength erupting from the depths of her soul.
The duo closed their eyes and located their powers. Max squeezed her partner-in-time’s arm then began the countdown.
“Okay… 1, 2, ….” Just before calling out the third number, she surprisingly tiptoed, leaned in, and kissed her fiancé on the cheek. “…3.”
Two spiraling beams of energy pulsed from each girl, twisting and dancing around each other, just as they had before. Another mild panic shot through Chloe’s mind, but she bedded it down and continued to push the fast-forward beam outward. The laser-like spirals converged out in the darkness and tore another golden-framed window in the air. Through the pulses, and because of the distance, neither girl recognized the scene.
“KEEEEP HOOOLDING CHHHLOE!”
A second later, the merged beams, originating from the girls’ outstretched arms, jumped from the window they had just created, ripping a second hole in space right beside the first. The girls kept holding tightly, and despite their rapidly dwindling energy, they leaned on each other for strength. After the second window formed in the distance, a third appeared, then a fourth, then a fifth. Finally, after another minute or so, they noticed dozens were shimmering through the darkness.
Through gnashed teeth, the girls’ eyes locked. Communicating without words, through eye movements and slight head bobs, they simultaneously plugged the pulses allowing the beams to swirl back towards the locations from which they emerged. Chloe quickly caught the rewinder before she fell to the ground. Being drained herself, she dropped to both knees beneath the girl, bracing her descent with one hand and lowering her partner with the other. The ringing vibration, of what Chloe thought sounded like a flatline from one of those hospital machines, rattled in her head for several seconds. She assumed the other girl was experiencing a similar sensation.
Finally, the torturous high-pitched tone dulled to a distant murmur and Chloe assisted the shorter girl to a standing position. Still catching their breaths, the girls stood staring into the circular sapphire orbs that glared back. Their dazes wore off and a marginal smile began to form on the freckled girl’s face, drawing a relieved smirk from her best friend.
“I don’t know about you, babe, but that was rough. I hope we don’t have to do that ever again. Maybe one of these… how many are there? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…” Max began counting aloud, but her fiancé had already finished.
“Forty-five floating windows to the future. What the fuck are we doing? Not that I’m not used to rewind, fast-forward, or dreamspace bullshit, but the sci-fi crap is spooky.”
“Yeah, but maybe one of them will help us figure things out. I’m hopeful all we have to do is find the right one.” She extended her arm with her elbow angled out and her fist drawn in towards her hip, and she waited for Chloe to latch on so she could lead them to the windows. “Shall we?”
The first future they walked up to was a nighttime scene. As they approached, it became much easier to recognize exactly what they were viewing. Their naked bodies were twisted together on an oversized beach towel on top of a sandy area glistening from the sweat and bright moonlight. They were having a beautifully romantic evening together by the ocean. Vanessa’s wicker picnic basket and a small trash bag laid a few feet from the towel. A small stack of clothing was piled not far from the basket beside one freshly emptied wine glass. Chloe figured the scene couldn’t be more a month or so into the future. Max wasn’t showing yet and they both looked practically the same. A fleck of light from the moon occasionally glittered off both girls’ rings.
“Uhm, can we move on? I don’t think we’ll find our answers here. Maybe we should give those two lovebirds some alone time.” Even in the dim light from the dreamspace, Max’s face was noticeably a slight shade of pink. She shrugged and pulled at her future bride’s arm.
“Fuck that, I wanna see it. This is damn hot. It’s like we recorded ourselves and are watching the video. Gives me an idea for when we get home.”
“No, Chlo. No way.” The girls laughed and Max started pulling them towards the next window.
Several steps from the first, the second golden-rimmed opening hung in the air where another scene was displayed. The pair was in their blue Subaru driving around and laughing. Max was definitely looking pregnant; her belly was more than just a small bump at that point. Seeing the scene, Chloe smiled, fought back joyful tears, and nudged the shorter girl’s shoulder with her own. A pregnant Max Caulfield with a girl growing in her stomach, which was a beautiful combination of them both, was the most astonishing and awe-inspiring thing she had ever seen. Their daughter represented the perfect love the duo shared together. “You’re showing big time here, sweetheart. Reminds me of a picture my mom had of her and Dad. They were kissing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran, and Mom was pregnant with yours truly.”
As the strangeness of what they were seeing began to wear off, a thought crossed Chloe’s mind. “Maximus, we see these scenes on a loop and there’s no sound. Do you think we can do anything besides just look at them?”
“That’s a good question. Let me try something.” The shorter girl stretched out her arm and a small swirling ray of energy pulsed from her hand and into the window. The future they were watching began slowly reversing. She released the rewind and the scene returned to normal speed. “Well, we can do that.”
“Hell yes! Let me try.” Chloe copied her partner and stretched out her arm. She found the sweet spot and lightly pressed down. A similar ray of twisting energy vibrated outward from her hand and entered the window. Everything in the scene began moving at more than twice its original speed. She released the pulse and regular pacing returned. “HA! Fuck yeah! Since time doesn’t exist here, I guess our powers can only be used on these future windows.”
“Chlo, I was just thinking. We’ve seen a part of our wedding and we’ve seen our daughter. I was starting to get anxious about spoiling all these joyful events in our life, but… she is why we’re here. It doesn’t matter if we see everything if it means we can save her life. With that said, I would really like to see the day she’s born. Besides our wedding, that is bound to be one of the happiest days that we get to experience. I’m guessing there’s a window around here with that scene.”
“Oh, damn. That might be fun. While we’re here, we might as well look at whatever we want and make the best of this.” The older girl realized Max felt strongly about what she wanted. She had only seen that look in her eyes a few times before: when she was focused on a photoshoot, whenever she speaks about their love for one another, the time she crawled through the portal to meet the Watcher, and when she had her heart set on jumping back after the first storm week. The look on her face indicated this was precisely what they needed to do. It was as if the universe was showing her which direction to turn the ship. The captain always knows when to let her first mate take the helm.
As they walked past the next few windows, their hearts were brimming. Permanent smiles were fixed on both girls’ faces. Being able to see these happy moments in their future made the dark moments of their past seem like grains of sand in the desert.
They walked for what seemed like miles before they came to the one window they sought near the end. “This is it, love,” the bluenette energetically sputtered while pointing towards the opening. In the window, they saw their future selves in a hospital room. Chloe was standing beside her first mate holding her hands while two nurses checked machines and a third held a clipboard. The birth hadn’t happened yet, but looked like it was going to at any moment. The nurses left the room and the door remained open behind them.
“Who the hell is that?” Max pointed towards the half-opened door, which was only in view briefly. She stretched out her arm and rewound the scene. “Right there. Do you see him?” Chloe noticed a man in a dark brown or black robe peering through the cracked door to the maternity ward hospital room. He wore a large silver crucifix that hung from his neck. His lowered brow and barred teeth informed the girls he was up to no good. They let the scene loop back and did not see the man but in that one fleeting moment.
The girls watched closely, leaning in to get a better look. “Wish we could hear what was happening,” Max complained. The brunette cautiously reached out and placed her palm near the window. She inched forward and watched as it passed through to the other side.
Chloe copied her fiancé and stretched her arm out in the same manner. When her palm reached the opening, it struck a glass-like lens. “Whoa.” She gently ran her fingers along the solid surface. Max reached out and, again, her hand passed through as if the window didn’t exist.
“That’s weird.” The girl had her fist on her chin with a perplexed look on her face. A couple of seconds passed by and the blue-haired girl noticed her perfect person’s eyebrows go up the way they did when a new thought crossed her mind. It occurred to her that the pair might have been realizing the identical thing at the same time. “This is eerily similar to the portal we opened in my room before… just reversed.”
“I was thinking about that, Max. You know how breaking the cycle was your purpose? I think mine might be to finish what we started and save our girl. I think this next part is for me. You faced the Watcher alone; I think I have to do this by myself. It’s my burden to bear this time, and that fucking guy looked suspicious as shit. I need to figure out what he’s up to.”
“Chlo, I know you’re right, but I’m afraid. We’ve been lucky so far. I mean, I know it’s our destiny but what if this time something goes wrong? We know one hundred and one exists, and we know we’re on the right track, but I can’t help feeling scared. Also, you know I never faced the Watcher alone. You were with me the entire time. It was your love that gave me the strength to break free.”
“I know.” Turning ninety degrees and away from her soulmate, Chloe repositioned her palm on the solid surface covering the window. She found the sweet spot and sent a slight pulse outward. The tangible surface glimmered and violet liquid-like ripples appeared across the surface. Her hand and arm disappeared inside the opening before she withdrew and turned back towards her fiancé. “Max, don’t be sacred. Remember, we’re fucking Max and Chloe. We’re always together even when we’re not.”
“You’re right, babe. Let me just try one more time.” The determined girl, once more, attempted to touch the golden-rimmed window. As before, her hand passed through to the other side. Max scoffed at the idea of being helpless in the moment, but remembered her favorite person had the reins. Nothing would stop her from taking care of business. “Go save our daughter. You’re so strong and smart, and you got this. I’ll be right here when you come back.” Chloe wrapped her arms around the love of her life and felt the girl reciprocate, who nestled her head into her chest.
After an embracing moment, the duo pulled back and their faces lined up. In the glow of the radiant window trim and purple waves, Chloe thought Max looked like a golden goddess. “You look beautiful right now, love.”
“I was just thinking the same about you. Chlo, you’ve never acted like you knew it, but you have always been the most beautiful girl in the room. I’ve always felt special when you just looked in my direction. And now, under the shining gleam from the window, you look amazing. You’re perfect, babe.” Chloe craned in for a passionate kiss. Slowly pulling away from her partner’s soft mouth, a tiny string of saliva continued to attach the girls from their top lips. The string fell away, and the girls stared into each other’s eyes both knowing they had to be apart for just a little while.
“I love you, Maxi Max. Let’s get this over with so we can get back to our life. I miss our daily routines and we still have our wedding coming up. I can’t wait to make you my wife.” After another peck, the girls moved away from one another allowing Chloe a little space.
“Be careful, Chlo. I can’t lose you.”
“I will, Max. This is for our daughter. I’ll be back before you know it.” She stuck her hand into the window again and brought it back out. “It’ll be hella quick.”
Max quickly kissed her best friend on the cheek. “Stay safe and come back to me. I’ll watch from here.” Chloe nodded then courageously dove forward and into the window.
The pregnant girl watched as her blue-haired goddess disappeared into the gap between the shimmering golden sides of the oval rim. A splintered scattering of white and purple light emanated from the opening. As the glow subsided, Max noticed the scene had vanished and the golden frame transitioned to a dull grey. “What? No.” Only darkness stared back at her as she peered into what used to be one of the happiest days of the engaged couple’s future.
Max assumed she would simply watch Chloe jump into the scene and either fix everything or at least come back out with new information they could use. Now she had no idea what was happening with no way to view her fiancé’s whereabouts. Another terrifying thought crossed her mind. She didn’t know how her partner would get back to her now, but even in the midst of impossible odds, Max was surging with hope.
“We’re Max and Chloe…” she affirmed, “We’re always together…”