“Oh, Maaaaax,” Chloe purred, a little louder than a whisper, yet soft enough not to wake their slumbering teenage daughter. She playfully waggled her eyebrows up and down with an impish smirk tightening the muscles in her face. “She’s asleep. You wanna…?”
“Of course I do, babe,” the brunette eagerly replied, cutting her wife off in mid-sentence. “I’ve been thinking about this all day.”
The taller of the two had just returned to the loveseat from down the hall where she peeked inside Des’s room to ensure the girl wouldn’t be able to hear what they were planning on doing. The married couple knew their daughter was still super tired after merging the multiverse and going to dinner, and they found themselves with the perfect opportunity to try out their new toy. Des was fast asleep in her bed all cozy and tucked in, with her sheets and bedspread contently snuggled on top of her body.
A reality-bending, once in a lifetime event such as the one the Caulfield-Price’s recently experienced, might have broken anyone else. Fortunately, a very wise version of the oldest of the three prevented a terrible outcome by anticipating the mental problems that could have potentially occurred.
Because of the merger, inside of Chloe, an uncountable number of scientific and scholarly thoughts, including that of the wheelchair-bound mastermind, flourished in her mind. Most could never be specifically recalled but all added an ingredient to the mix. Likewise, Max experienced a similar result, with enhanced and expanded analytical thought.
The lovers put their brains together and secretly worked for over a year on a computerized mechanism with virtual reality-like properties that collected unseen residuals from the former multiverse. Without the laser-driven quantum cooling module that was available to them in another reality, they had to settle for a liquid cooling setup with fluidics, micro-pumps, and valves all routed to a computerized apparatus. They didn’t have access to the higher tech they once did, but they made use of the items and materials they could collect from local stores and shops and from other various online sources.
The previous day, they made a breakthrough, affixing a headset and controller to the contraption. It would allow its user to mentally connect herself and be whisked to a fully immersed environment. They were tired and, according to Chloe’s calculations, Des would be returning shortly. So, they left their work to be completed for another time. Their curiosity and abundance of free time drew them back to work on the project just one day later.
Chloe lovingly pulled Max in towards herself and wrapped her arms around her favorite person. “You ready to see if this shit’s paid off, love?” The taller woman craned downward and pecked her wife on the lips then quickly withdrew. When Max pushed forward to reciprocate, her partner inched her head backwards with a teasing grin on her face. However, the magnetic energy between the couple wouldn’t allow them to be apart for long. Gingerly placing both palms on either cheek, the shorter woman pulled Chloe’s face towards her own. This time, the blonde didn’t resist. Their deep connection wouldn’t be denied forcing their ardent mouths together, ending with a tangle of lips and a lengthy sharing of realized love and completeness.
“Okay, love,” Chloe beckoned, forcing herself to push away. “If we don’t quit now, you know where this will end. I won’t be able to stop myself from attacking you, you sexy bitch.”
“Sounds like a really good thing to me, babe.” Max forced their bodies back together, sliding both hands down her soulmate’s back until they landed as low as they could go, with cupped handfuls of her best friend.
“Damn, Maxi Max. You know it’s hard for me to resist you when you grope me like that.” As she stepped back, forcing the pair apart, she heard an audibly displeased grunt come from the slightly frustrated woman in front of her.
“Fine,” Max huffed. “Let’s do this. But when we’re finished, your ass is mine.”
“Mmmm. I can’t wait, love.” Another quick kiss was followed by an interlocking of fingers and a tender hug. The lovebirds broke the embrace and left the living room, heading for their garage and the connected storage room that previously went unused. Unknown to their daughter, the space had been redesigned and converted to a small lab where Max and Chloe worked through experiments and tests so their minds could occasionally stay occupied with higher level thoughts.
Since the merger, which took place sixteen years ago to Des’s moms, the only negative consequence they seemed to experience was an increase in brain activity. This heightened awareness was like having an endless thirst for more knowledge that could never be fully quenched. Neither considered it to be a bad thing or a hindrance, and both continued to love each other more and more every day.
A little over a year ago, and almost by accident, the women discovered a unique trait within specific subatomic particles that abstractly reflected properties consistent with residual dark matter from the once shattered multiverse. Chloe had an idea to sift these particles and collect the pieces to examine and evaluate. As Max analyzed the post-test data, it was clear they had discovered a potential means to view former multiverse realities where previously undetected left-over particles still existed. Wondering if they could artificially recreate the previous existences, the curious couple went to work. What resulted was a supercomputer that they completely finished building one evening prior.
“You know, Max,” Chloe began, “in another reality, I had an AI named Molly. I really wish she could be here to run stabilization tests before we do this.”
“Uhm, babe,” Max responded, “I very much remember Molly. She would definitely be a huge help at a time like this. Just remember…”
“Yeah, yeah. We’re Max and Chloe; there’s nothing we can’t do together, and we don’t really need her anymore. I get that. It would just be nice to feel more sure about this. After all we’ve been through, if something bad happens now, it would be pretty fucking shitty. That’s all. We don’t need any more bad fucking things happening in our life.”
“Have confidence, my dear,” Max giggled, both hands over her tiny mouth in an attempt to muffle her laughter. “I used to be the hesitant one and you were always pushing me to not worry so much. Look at us now. Ha!” They knew Des wouldn’t have any real issues with what they were attempting to do, but she seemed to be glad they weren’t meddling with space and time anymore. It was important to show their teenager that people with powers can live normal lives. They never lied to her about it, it just conveniently never came up. There were plenty of other adventures they’d been on while Des was younger that they didn’t share with her for the same reason.
“If the machine doesn’t wake her up, your laughing won’t either. You’re right though, love. We’ll just fire it up and take a peek like we talked about yesterday. Plus, I’m Chloe fucking Caulfield-Price. I’m still a badass!” She raised two arms up in the victory pose.
“Keep telling yourself that, babe,” the smaller of the two teased. “Damn, you’re so sexy when you get all ‘I’m a badass’ and whatnot.” Max shoulder bumped her playfully pouty wife then tiptoed and placed her lips on the woman’s cheek. “Love you, Chlo.”
Chloe shrugged and rolled her eyes. “Love you too, Meanie Maxine-ey.” It wasn’t uncommon for the pair to tease one another, spending countless hours just being around each other joking and laughing. “Speaking of sexy, your confidence is a damn turn on. Maybe you’re right, we can wait on this. Perhaps we can… ya know, head to bed and tear each other’s clothes off. Maybe? Oh! Orrrr… a shower? Please.”
“As much as I’d enjoy that, we need to focus for a little bit longer, then we can attack each other later. Deal?” The freckled woman stretched out her arm awaiting her partner to confirm their agreement with a handshake. She had an overly cute and heartfelt grin on her face that made it even more difficult for Chloe to resist her primal urges. And she knew it.
“Deal.” They shook hands like two businesswomen who barely knew the other, keeping up the act; as if they hadn’t seen each other naked so many times they would never be able to count the instances.
Inside their lab, Max ensured the door was pulled tightly and latched; both to reduce noise and to maintain as sterile of an environment as possible. The couple gathered beside the machine, nodded at one another with unflappable assuredness, then Max picked up the headset and slipped it down over her eyes.
“Max, remember, it’ll prolly seem like you’re in there for a long damn time but only a few minutes will pass here. Sorta Matrix-Neo style.” She chuckled briefly, enticing a smile and a barely noticeable coo from her partner’s lips. “Before I flip the switch, remind me again why you have to be the one to go in first. I fucking hate you being the one taking a risk here.”
“You know much more about the machine than I do. If something goes wrong out here, you can troubleshoot and fix it.” Max blindly adjusted the strap on the back end of the headset so it would more snugly fit to her face and head. Chloe reached over and gently tucked several strands of loose hair behind the love of her life’s ears, sensually grazing the sensitive areas on the sides of her neck. Not being able to resist herself, she leaned in and planted a deep kiss on her wife’s lips. Their tongues played a secret game of tag where no matter the outcome, both would be winners.
Max could only see black with the headset on, but she didn’t need her sight to feel the cascading waves of pure love pulsating between them. Chloe pulled away and helped her wife to sit in the cushioned desk chair they’d selected, then she walked the few steps to the other side of the machine. “You’re right, but it should be me taking the risk, dammit. If you’re not out in five minutes, I’ll pull you back. Anytime you want out, just reach up and remove the headset. Easy peasy. You should be able to feel it in there.”
“Yeah, got it, Chlo. I’m ready.” She held the controller with both hands in her lap and shifted her body so her back was straightened. “Love you, babe.”
“Love you too, Maxi. On the count of three I’ll flip the switch. That sound good?”
“One… two… two and a half… two and three quarters… two and seven eighths…”
“Chlo, please,” the woman in the headset giggled.
The pronged start switch was firmly grasped between the blonde’s pointer and thumb. “Three!” After flipping it up, the machine hissed and scraped, then began grumbling as the pistons increased with speed. Chloe watched the generator-like contraption vibrate followed by a releasing of trapped steam. She knew that meant the heat sync component had kicked on and was working as intended. It was probably one of the pieces she worried the most about. Without realizing it, she’d been holding her breath as she watched, hoping all would go smoothly and according to plan. She released the warm air from her lungs and looked at the digital clock on the wooden desk in the corner of the room.
“Alright, Chloe,” she spoke to herself, “no more than five minutes, then you get her ass outta there.” As time ticked by, her eyes never moved from her perfect person except for periodic glances at the seemingly slow-moving clock. Max’s body marginally trembled occasionally but it wasn’t unexpected. Her consciousness would be experiencing several hours, if not days, during her time hooked to the machine.
Finally, about thirty seconds prior to the five minute deadline, Max’s hands reached up and pushed the headset away from her eyes. She blinked several times then turned in Chloe’s direction with a goofy grin tightening the muscles in her cheeks. “Wowser. How long was I gone?”
“Super glad you’re back, Super Max.” The blonde flipped the switch to the off position and quickly walked behind her wife, wrapping her arms around the woman’s petite frame and squeezing tightly. “A little over four minutes, I think,” she softly spoke with her head down near Max’s ear. “Much longer, and I was gonna yank you out.”
“That universe was nutso. I mean, we’ve seen and experienced some crazy shit, but… damn. This one might take the cake in some ways.”
“Tell me, Max. Pleeeeeeease!” Chloe wheeled a second chair beside her wife and held both of her hands in her own; resting them on the brunette’s lap.
“Yeah. Well, we existed as video game characters. They got most of our story right, it was wild. At least up to the point of the storm. They even had a sort of prequel about you and Rachel. I know a good bit of that one was off in spots. Like Warren’s and Victoria’s ages were incorrect and you told me you already had a streak of blue in your hair prior to meeting Rachel, yet the ending segment made it seem like you hadn’t colored it until later. Also, they made it seem like I ghosted you when we really both never reached out after William passed. I was a little pissed about that part.”
“Whoa, that’s fucking bizarre, love.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. Felt like I was in there for weeks, but I realized it was still just a simulation because I never had to use the restroom and I never felt hungry or tired. I knew you’d pull me out if I was in too long, so I just kept exploring.”
“Did they at least make sure I was hot as shit, you know… like I am in real life?” Chloe stood to her feet in a sort of model’s pose smirking, then she stepped behind her still seated partner. She placed her palms on the woman’s shoulders and began massaging in a circular motion.
“Mmmm, that feels good, babe.”
“So, was I hot or not? This is important shit, Maxter.” Both women shared a laugh like they were still little girls playing pirates in the backyard.
“Hellz yeah. I mean, the developers spent time hand painting the scenes and the renderings could use a bit of work. We seemed like robots in spots, but yeah… you were absolutely stunning in the games. That’s not even all of it either.”
“Oh, there’s more?”
“Yeah, there’s an entire fandom that spawned because of the game. They’ve created fan art, fan fiction, and even like… well… some pretty NSFW stuff with us. Super damn weird.”
“Ooh la-la, maybe I should get in there next time,” Chloe joked. “Sounds hot as fuck.”
“Anyway… I spent my time playing the games, checking out a ton of the artwork, and reading a dozen or so fan fictions. Since the main game ends after the first storm week, there are so many head canons around the fandom about what happened to us. Nobody has gotten even close to right yet. Made me wanna write, like, a true story version; just to get the record straight.”
“Hmmm,” Chloe considered. “What were some of the stories you read? What do people think happened to us after that shitty week?”
“A ton of them were more alternate universe stuff where they had us as vampire hunters, actual pirates, and coffee shop owners. I read one where Dianne Prescott was like the mother of all evil and captured us to use me and my rewind in some sort of Illuminati-like, fucked up plan. There were some really shitty parts but, in the end, we were happy together and I got to have badass superhero powers, so it wasn’t too terrible.” Max placed her palms back and beside her neck, draping them on top of her wife’s hands, tenderly stopping the massage. “The good news is the machine works. I felt like I had a birds-eye-view and could sorta zoom in where I wanted, if that makes sense. It was pretty damn amazing, babe.”
“You mentioned writing a story to set the record straight. What if we really could? I mean, I we COULD just drop everything and rip each other’s clothes off; right here, right now.”
“Soon, babe,” the headstrong brunette responded. “Let’s finish this first. I’m telling you, when I was inside, I could interact with things, but it felt… I dunno, sorta temporary. Like my existence was inconsequential to anything that happened there. Plus, we’re only looking at left over fragments of the multiverse. It doesn’t really exist apart from prime anymore, right? The multiverse was merged into our reality and restored from what we broke, yeah?”
“Yeah, I think that’s correct. But these small fragments existing away from the whole might mean there are still living consciousnesses not actually knowing their worlds were essentially merged back into ours – or, rather, unrestored shards of realities. Does that make sense, love?”
“Yeah, it does… I guess.” Max scratched her head and spun her chair around to face her wife.
“What I’m saying is the video games, fan art, and fan fiction are all probably still being played and made. If that’s so, I think we could implant a story within that specific realm to tell our truth. Then anybody reading will know exactly what happened. Not that it truly matters or whatever, but it might be fun to write our memoirs, ya know? Go back through the events in our minds and write that shit down.” Chloe walked over and retrieved the MacBook that was plugged into the wall behind the desk. She brought it back and cleared a space in front of the couple on the countertop where the machine rested; small columns of steam still tricking from the top and sides.
“That does sound fun, Chlo. I’m getting sorta excited.” A toothy smile stretched across the shorter girl’s face which caused a second one to develop on her partner’s.
Chloe began first, typing at the top of the new page:
By Max and Chloe Caulfield-Price (the real bad bitches)
“Chlo, we can’t call ourselves Max and Chloe. Don’t you think that would seem weird among all the other writers? They don’t even know we exist except in that strange video game. We need to come up with a good pseudonym so we don’t look like total assholes.”
“Oh, I got it!” Chloe’s voice shot up an octave like it did when she was excited about something. “Check this out.” She began typing and was clearly proud of herself, indicated by how rapidly she banged each key.
By Chloe and the Real Max
“Babe, that’s basically the same as before…”
“No, no. Here. Look now. We’ll get rid of all the characters that aren’t capitalized.”
By ChLoe And the Real maX
She began backspacing and lining up the letters. When she was finished, she had the final name set.
“Nobody will ever know, Maxi Max. What do you think?”
“Looks good. But what about a title?”
“Well, this is the only real story in the bunch, so maybe ‘The Only’? We can make it a series if we decide to keep going with it. Maybe start with The Only Way Now?”
“Yeah, that’s not bad. I got an idea, babe. The main game was set from my perspective, so would you mind if I start writing first? We can switch off and change perspectives throughout the story.”
“F’ing A, dude! Let’s get it started. I got the perfect summary for the beginning. Here…”
After the strangest week of her life, Max Caulfield was faced with an unfair and difficult decision. Neither choice was ideal—in fact the choices fucking sucked! Either way meant the deaths of loved ones. In a reality where rewind is possible, someway, somehow… she chose both.
(Welcome to your new head canon)
Max nodded in approval then turned the laptop so it was directly in front of her. She placed both hands on the keyboard and closed her eyes for a moment, reopening them with an deeply focused concentration. “Here we go…” She took a deep, airy breath then released the air from her lungs. Beginning to type, the younger half of the perfect pair, allowed her fingers to freely and honestly dance across the keyboard…
The Only Way Now
Max was given a power to go back and correct mistakes; a ‘rewind’ power, she called it. Early on, she tested it by not only fixing things for the better, but by making herself seem smarter, cooler, and more popular. It made her sick to her stomach thinking about that time; she felt naïve and ignorant to be so careless….