The wedding stream hit eight million concurrent viewers on the day they got married. Months later, it was still getting tons of traffic. Being the savvy businessperson she had become, Chloe sold advertisements to maximize the monetization of the site. She learned a ton in an online SEO course she took a few months prior. M3 was doing better than ever, as was Victoria’s gallery.
Thirty-nine weeks had passed since their trip to Ben Ure cabin, and a lot had happened between this point and then. The residency with The Chase Space was in full swing requiring various in-person activities every week or two. The contract was amended to a long-term stay with new exclusive sets added every three months. Max and Victoria continued to share a friendship with daily texts and weekly phone calls; even Chloe warmed up and wasn’t as annoyed by the girl as she once was. Their friend went on a date and surprisingly asked Max for advice. The photographer didn’t think she was the best to help, and she was thankful she never had to go through the awful process of dating. The brunette fell in love exactly one time with her perfect match, the girl of her dreams, her soulmate, and her best friend.
“I think this is the one, Chlo!” Max grimaced and strained as she laid in the hospital bed with her green-haired partner by her side cupping her hand. Her wife’s hair was transitioning back to the point between blue and her naturally beautiful blonde. When the contractions began, the girls knew Destiny was on her way and it filled their hearts with a brimming joy. After one instance of Braxton Hicks, and a couple of other false alarms, the married couple was finally admitted since Max was dilating.
Chloe pushed the call button on the corded remote that was attached to the hospital bed. “Are you sure, love?”
“I thought so, but the pain is duller and sorta in the background now. I’m sorry, I thought she was coming.” Max apologized, thinking her bedside companion was growing aggravated by all the false alarms.
“No way, dude. Don’t you dare apologize to me. You’re the one carrying our baby girl. Any moment now we’ll be squeezing that little rug rat in our arms. Don’t worry about it, she’ll be here when she’s ready. She’s probably just stubborn like me. Although, I would argue you’re the more stubborn one.” Three nurses ran in and were quickly notified their services were not yet needed. Despite Max’s lessened pain, the lead nurse lifted up her gown and checked her body. The dilation hadn’t increased so they exited the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.
Suddenly, the room vibrated as if an earthquake or trimmer had passed across the hospital. “Did you feel that?”
“Yeah, it was like a rewind pulse… and…” Chloe’s voice caught followed by a deep breath. “She’s here, love,” the taller girl anxiously gasped. “I’ll… I mean she’ll seem brave, but she’s actually scared as hell, trust me.” Another earth-moving pulse hit as they grinned at one another.
“Being scared doesn’t make you not brave, babe. You are the most courageous person I know, and it’s one of the things I love so much about you.” The older girl was fondly looking back at her with a sparkle of pure love in her eyes. A voice coming from the far end of the room interrupted their locked gaze.
“No time to explain. I’m Chloe from the past. Do not mention anything about how you two conceived. It’s bad news. While we’re at it…” Max watched as the blue-haired girl ran out of the hospital room and into the hall, closing the door behind her. Her eyes trailed from the door back into the room where she noticed an ovular golden-rimmed window hanging at the opposite end near the small sitting area.
“So, she’s out there saving Destiny’s life, yeah?” Max asked before grabbing her partner’s shirt and pulling her down towards the bed for a kiss.
After removing their lips, Chloe stood back beside her first mate and proudly responded, “Yep.” The door abruptly sprang opened and they watched as the younger Chloe backed into the room, shutting the door upon entry. A brief silence fell amongst the trio while they scanned and thoughtfully eyed one another. “Damn, the blue looks really good on you; I kinda miss it, kinda don’t. So, tell us why you’re here.” Max noticed a confident smirk on her wife’s lips as she watched the scene unfold, and she understood her partner had been on the other side of this exact moment months before.
“Uh, so… from my understanding,” the girl from the past shakily replied, “this is the potential future my Max and I could share. It will be one of the happiest moments of our lives. I am here to prevent something horrible from happening in your future… in OUR future. My purpose is to save that little girl getting ready to pop from Max’s belly. I’m pretty sure I just took care of a big part of it.”
Max sat up in the hospital bed and propped on her elbows which jetted out from behind her. “Do we wanna know what you did? Would it even matter?” Max locked eyes with her former fiancé, and even knowing this was a past version of her soulmate, the connection felt electric and nearly overwhelming.
“I don’t think specifics matter, but you do need to realize what that child represents. Her existence will be questioned for the rest of her life by religious folks who are not quite as… progressive unless you keep her origin quiet. Do not discuss how she was conceived, like ever. It’ll only bring bad fucking things your way… OUR way.”
“Past you is so beautiful, babe… so fucking courageous,” Max whispered, knowing the girl looking back wouldn’t be able to hear them. “Damn hot too.”
“Is it weird that sorta makes me jealous? Don’t even think about leaving me for a younger me, Maxi Max.” The married couple shared a secret adoring smile and turned their attention back to the third girl in the room.
“We understand. Now, I imagine you’ll need to get back,” Max commented, shooting a wide and toothy grin in her direction. “Don’t keep her waiting. Though, since your Max is technically me, you probably know I would wait forever for you.” The beautiful green-haired girl careened in and pecked her wife on the lips.
“Goddamn,” the bluenette responded. “We’re so fucking lucky we found each other.”
“You mean, it’s Destiny,” the older version of the taller girl replied while tenderly rubbing Max’s belly, contently beaming.
The blue-headed visitor strolled up to the hospital bed and stared down at Max’s baby bump where the little girl was making her home for what couldn’t be much longer. “Do you mind?” she asked, looking back and forth, from Max to Chloe and back to Max again. The girls smiled and nodded their heads confirming it was okay, so Chloe bent down and kissed Max’s big beautiful belly. “We love you so much and can’t wait to meet you,” she expressed with her palm gently flat on the brunette’s stomach. The touch sent a wave of euphoria through the pregnant girl’s body enticing a brief stutter in her breathing.
“Hey,” the older girl called out, fingering and twisting her wedding ring. “Taking care of yourself is more important now than ever. But taking care of this one,” she bobbed her head towards the beautiful girl in the hospital bed, “is the most important thing in your life. As long as she’s happy, nothing else matters.” She balled her hand and extended her arm. Max watched as the girls bumped fists and smiled at one another. She was encircled by the warmth of love in the room, and she felt a fiery energy pulsating from both of her protectors.
“Damn skippy. That’s my purpose from here on out. Now, I don’t know exactly how this is supposed to work but I gotta go back through that window. Good luck with the birth, and please, don’t fuck anything up. This is the last time you’ll have me to save your asses.”
“Is that really what I sound like?” the girl beside the hospital bed asked with a playfully sour look on her face.
“Yep,” Max giggled. “Please don’t change. I love that about you. Always a pirate, always a punk… always my perfect person.”
Chloe turned away from the couple and stepped back up to the window, placing the inner surface of her hand on the solid structure. The room vibrated and Max released a deep howl. She felt a hammering pain in the lower portion of her stomach, and fully knew this was the moment their daughter would come weeping into the world.
Through her strains, the brunette looked up and noticed their visitor diving into the window. As soon as she was fully inside, the opening winked out of existence with a high-pitched hum and a bright purple glister.
“Shit, okay dude.” Chloe quickly located the nurse call button again and summoned the hospital workers back into the room. The lead nurse checked the pregnant girl’s body and shouted for the other nurses to get the doctor. Almost immediately, the room was occupied with more bodies in scrubs and face masks as they prepared for delivery. As the team piled into the room, the hairs on the back of Max’s head juddered and stood on end.
The brunette’s vision was blurred, her eyes were filled with tears, and her teeth were gnashed together. The pain swelled and was nearly unbearable as the muffled words “push” echoed in the deep recesses of her mind. For a brief moment, the hustle and bustle of the situation calmed. A clarity washed over her thoughts and everything slowed to a crawl. She opened her eyes, which had been squeezed together so tightly they felt limp and weak, and noticed the hospital team working their magic.
One nurse held a clipboard while monitoring equipment. Another was at the computer typing notes and entering numbers. She could only see the top of the doctor’s head, and she marginally smiled realizing she sometimes used the same type of hair-tie the doctor had in her hair. Two other nurses stood beside the doctor and assisted with her responsibilities. Another younger nurse propped against the wall near the window not doing much. Max noticed a streak of red through the translucent hair net cap, and assumed the girl must be an intern, though she looked somewhat familiar.
All of a sudden, she felt her partner’s hand squeeze her own and heard her voice cut through the silent gap in her thoughts. The pain abruptly returned, and she let out a croaky scream.
“Push, Max, you’re almost there!” Chloe’s concerned voice sounded beautiful. It was her perfect person cheering her along and it made her feel warm and hopeful. “You’ve got this, love!”
Deep inhale. PUSH!
Another airy breath. “AHH!”
Short breaths. In, out, in, out… PUSH!
One final thrust hurt like hell, but was followed by a sound that matched only Chloe’s voice in beauty. Destiny’s cries could be heard from beneath her legs as tears rolled down her swollen face. She looked up and watched her baby being lifted up from below. Chloe kissed her on the cheek, released her hand, took the scissors the doctor provided, and ceremoniously cut the umbilical cord. Her eyes were wide with wonder and it made Max smile seeing her perfect person falling in love with their daughter.
The nurses took the baby to the corner where the sink and towels were located and cleaned her up. Max heard one call out, “Seven pounds, three ounces, twenty-two inches,” before swaddling and handing her back. The lead nurse informed them that it was important for the baby to have skin to skin contact with her mom pretty quickly after exiting the womb, so she loosened the swaddle and adjusted Max’s gown for Destiny to snuggle in. The doctor confirmed they had a perfectly healthy baby girl and said her goodbyes. She stepped out of the room and left the nurses to the remainder of their duties.
The brunette wrapped her arms around Destiny, running her fingers through soft blonde hair, and not only felt the girl’s warmth, but she could also feel the radiating love enveloping her heart that originated from Chloe’s half. It didn’t surprise her that she could physically feel her perfect person inside her daughter, but it did completely lock her soul in at an even deeper level than before, which seemed nearly impossible. The perfect mixture of the married couple formed a beautiful and unique individual whom she loved dearly.
After several minutes, her wife practically begged to hold the baby. Max giggled as her partner awkwardly handled the newborn. She treated the baby like a carton of eggs, carefully moving as she cradled her near her chest. Immediately, the little girl stopped crying and fell asleep. “You’re a natural, babe,” Max commented and watched the joyful expression of love form on her soulmate’s face. She could see and feel the adoration pouring out from her wife’s heart as she treasured their new addition.
After smelling something awful, a nervous urgency quickly replaced joy. Panic washed over Chloe’s face as she had to figure out how to change a diaper. The recovering girl laughed so hard she snorted while watching her wife frantically clean their daughter’s bottom coupled with several choice words. “HA! Take that,” she proudly boasted, “ya damn nasty diaper. I’m the boss ‘round these parts!” Max let her change the first few while she gained her strength back but jumped in to alternate as soon as she was able.
The following few hours involved visits from Ryan and Vanessa, Victoria and Jessica, David and Karen, and other relatives they hardly knew. Brody called to offer his congratulations but couldn’t make it in person. He was hundreds of miles away traveling and writing for his blog. Chloe’s ultra-conservative grandparents, who lived in Idaho, even briefly called to wish them the best.
When nighttime arrived, and all visitors left, the girls were on edge watching their baby sleep and intently listening to make sure she was still breathing. Like most new parents, they were terrified to close their eyes for too long, but they took shifts so the other could rest. Max was thankful Victoria threw them a baby shower months before, as they used most of the items they received to help ease the burden of the day. She also thought they probably had enough diapers to last ten years, but she quickly found out how rapidly they disappeared.
The next day, the family of three settled in back home in their upstairs bedroom at the Caulfield’s. The room had become more of a nursery with a crib, toys, diapers, wipes, and baby clothes. “We need to get our own place, pronto,” Chloe mentioned after laying Destiny down in her crib for a nap. “We’d have hella more space than we do now.”
“Mom and Dad said we could use as much of the house as we need, but yeah… you’re right. I’d love to finally get a place we can call our own.” She wondered if Chloe would want a house or an apartment, or maybe even a townhome. Max didn’t care as long as her little family was all together. She knew her parents didn’t mind them staying there, and she knew they were grateful for their support. The girls used profits from M3 to completely pay off the house months before. She also suspected they might look forward to the day they could have their entire house to themselves, and she didn’t want to become a burden. Her mom constantly talked about having another room available for her crafts, and Max’s would be the perfect space.
“Since she’s finally asleep, do you wanna… you know…?” Chloe bit her lip and had the look in her eyes that meant only one thing.
“Chlo! I literally was pregnant yesterday. Plus, we haven’t really slept in a couple of days, aren’t you tired?”
“I’m tired of not being able to dive on you.” She impishly responded. “It’s been what two weeks?! I don’t know how much longer I can hold out, Max.” The girl with faded green hair inched closer with a clear desire to pounce.
“I think they recommend not doing… that for a couple of weeks after delivery.” She took a step backwards, but the gap was quickly closed by a forward step from her wife.
“That’s only a suggestion, love. Come on, pleeeeease!”
“Let’s give it a couple more days. Don’t get me wrong, I want you too. It’s just… I dunno. Maybe my body should heal a bit first.” Her partner looked disappointed, but the smirk a little lower made her smile too.
“That’s fine. If you weren’t… well… you, it wouldn’t be okay. But you know I would wait forever for you. I love you so damn much.”
“I love you too, babe. Just think about the next time. It’ll be… intense.” As Max played coy with an adoring grin on her face, Chloe shook her head. She retreated to the bed, kicked off her shoes, and laid down on her back. Max joined her beautiful soulmate and snuggled against her. “We have a perfect life together, Chlo. With you and now Destiny, and M3 doing so well, I don’t think I could even dream of anything better.” She paused and pulled away slightly. Her loving smile turned into one of worry and discontent. “It’s just… I dunno. I can’t help but wonder what other shit we’ll have to go through. We’ve been through ten lifetimes of struggles; we deserve a break.”
“Yeah,” her favorite person whispered in agreement, “but we got this. Let someone or something try and mess with Max and Chloe… and Destiny. We’ll do what we always do, kick some ass.” Chloe pulled her wonderful wife back into her chest and kissed her on top of her head, taking a deep sniff in the process. Something about the girl’s warmth and assuredness set Max’s heart at ease. Her words brimmed with hope and confidence, and it made the smaller girl flush with joy.
“You’re right, babe. I know nothing has ever been normal with us, but I just want to be with you, take some pictures, and raise our daughter. I want things to be okay.” She turned to face her favorite person and tenderly placed her lips against her partner’s soft mouth while her palm grazed the girl’s cheek. It was a heartfelt embrace that felt mature and void of any expectation. Max loved her so much, and she knew her wife felt the same.
The married couple withdrew their lips and shut their eyes. “I’ll take first shift,” Chloe softly spoke through barely parted lips. The lovers fell asleep in each other’s arms as they had many times before. This time, however, was refined with a new added responsibility for the third person sleeping several steps from where they were laying. Both girls were exhausted and fell asleep right away.
After what felt like only a couple of minutes, Max was abruptly awakened by a not-so-gentle shake to her shoulder. Annoyed by the sudden wokeness, she pushed up to see why Chloe decided to interrupt her slumber. As she looked at her best friend, the girl had one finger across her lips informing Max she needed to stay quiet. She noticed a soft humming, metallic tone and looked around the room to locate its origin. A strange electric sensation made the hairs on the back of the brunette’s head vibrate.
Beside the crib, a tiny ovular object, no bigger than a fist, with a golden rim hung in the air. Max saw Chloe’s mouth gaping in disbelief, and she was certain her face mirrored her partner’s. They slowly turned to look at one another, and Chloe spoke first, “Did… we… uhm, do that in our sleep?”
Max shook her head and swallowed. “I don’t think so, babe. Look…” She slowly turned back towards the object, pointing with her index finger. As the pair gazed in the direction of the crib, they noticed a wide-awake and adorable newborn reflecting the light from the small portal in her perfect blue eyes.