Max was heading back home from a gruelling day at work and running errands. The days were slowly getting shorter, but the heat still lingered even if autumn loomed right around the corner, so a refreshing shower seemed in order.
When the brunette walked up to the door, keys in hand, it wouldn’t have surprised her to hear music seeping through the walls at a level above the acceptable. However what she was met with, was a loud and angry voice coming from inside.
Max could hear Chloe shout before she even entered the apartment. This didn’t sound good.
“Well next time he should fucking ASK!” Chloe yelled in her phone before ending the call and tossed it on the coach, clenching and unclenching her fists.
“Love? What happened?” Max walked up to her; worry written all over her face. She hadn’t seen Chloe this livid in a long while. A deep furrow ran between her eyebrows and her face had taken on a slight red colour while a vein protruded on the side of her neck.
“David that fucker “accidentally” threw away a box with some of my shit. Said he hadn’t paid attention and was an honest mistake, my ass!” Chloe fumed, pacing up and down the living room. “That was my mom on the phone, and we ended up fighting as well.”
“I’m sure it was an accident Chloe. I don’t think he would purposely throw away your stuff.”
“He could have checked, asked!” Chloe protested, she hadn’t been in such a big fight with them for over a year, heck a few weeks ago they all had been eating dinner together when she had gone to visit. But now this action had made her go from zero to hundred in no time, bringing along with it bad habits of lashing out as fear clouded her rational mind, fear that there could have been something of her father’s in that box.
“Try to calm down, I’m sure you can patch things up once you’ve all cooled down.” Max said trying to help, she knew that they were slowly nearing the anniversary of William’s death, so it was plausible this was what had triggered such reaction.
“It’s not that simple Max. We would constantly get in big fights like this, and things would never just magically fix themselves.” Chloe said waving her arm to the side in a sarcastic way.
“Of course not Chloe, that’s what talking is for.” Max retorted.
“Have you met my family?” Chloe asked ironically, brows creasing in irritation.
“As a matter of fact, yes I have.” Max shot back, now starting to get annoyed with Chloe’s attitude.
“Then you know talking isn’t really our gig.” The punk fired back in a state of vexation. Why wasn’t Max getting it?
“Well there is always a first time for everything. Look, I know it’s not easy, but I have seen you overcome it.” Max tried, wanting to avoid any more outbursts. She wanted to remind Chloe how far she’d come and how not long ago she had been sitting with Joyce and David in their living room watching movies together. But she never got the chance as the next words that tore from the punk’s mouth drilled a hole straight through her heart.
“No Max, you wouldn’t know. You weren’t there!” Chloe snapped and glared at the brunette in the heat of the moment only after realising what she had just said at seeing the hurt swirl behind Max’s eyes, instantly regretting it as all fight drained from her and the anger she had towards David twisted its ugly head to peer at her.
Max could feel the knife in her heart twist and out poured sorrow, guilt but also anger because she didn’t know what else to do other than ask forgiveness for something that she would regret for the rest of her life.
“Max, Shit! I’m so sorry. I know it wasn’t your fault.” Chloe rushed to apologise immediately and mentally kicking herself for her poor choice in words.
“No I- You’re right Chloe. I wasn’t there and I can never apologise enough for that, for not keeping in touch when you needed me the most. But you weren’t the only one that got separated from their best friend that day…” Max said, frustrated and yes even a bit irritated. She genuinely didn’t know what else to do to make it up to the punk, the only thing that was certain right now, however, was that she needed to go out and grab some fresh air before any more deplorable words were spoken.
Grabbing her stuff once more she bolted out of the door the moment Rachel walked in.
“Max! I’m sorry-“ Shouted Chloe behind her. “FUCK!” She smashed her fist against the table, knocking over a glass which shattered into tiny little pieces on the floor just like their argument had blown up any of the punk’s ability to keep things together.
“What is going on?! Chloe? Max?” Rachel asked as she nearly ran into the brunette who was striding out of the house.
“I fucked up for a change.” Chloe said sounding defeated; shoulders sagging as she explained to Rachel what had happened.
“That was a shitty thing to do.” She admitted while trying really hard to keep a level head. “But, maybe this time it was indeed a mistake?” Rachel suggested, trying to de-escalate the situation even if she herself was irked.
“Shit! I know, I just saw red when they told me. It’s just, in a few weeks…” Her voice faded out when she looked at Rachel.
Rachel immediately understood and took her in her arms, kissing her temple. “You have us. Whatever you need, we’re here.”
“I really messed up with Max.” Chloe answered, hands lifelessly hanging by her side.
“She will come back. Just give her some time.” Rachel comforted her.
“I think I need to be alone.” Chloe said as she pushed back and headed to her room closing the door behind her.
Rachel didn’t take offense, she simply felt sad seeing the other in such a state and wished she could do something to help but knew better than to intervene now. Chloe needed her space and that’s exactly what she was going to give her.
After an hour of aimlessly walking in the neighbourhood park and replaying their discord, Max had returned home longing to make up with Chloe. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there Rachel informed her; she had taken the keys and gone for a drive to clear her head after emerging from her room.
Max sat down on the couch with a huff, petered out by the fight.
“Chloe told me what happened. Want to talk about it?” Rachel offered as she sat down next to Max, bringing her knees up to her side, getting comfortable.
“I just wish I knew how to fix this.” She sighed, turning her head to face Rachel.
“You can’t Max, families can be…complicated.” The blonde said with a knowing look on her face.
Max realised Rachel was referring to her troubled family. She never really had such serious problems with hers so it was hard for her to relate, however she wouldn’t let that stop her from being there for her girlfriends.
“I know this upcoming period is going to be tough on her. I simply wanted to help…” The photographer exhaled heavily shaking her head. “You’d think I’d learn my lesson by now. Whenever I try to help, I just end up complicating things more…” She finally said with a small deprecating sniffle after a relatively long pause. During the fight she had felt like she was attempting to defuse a bomb with a butter knife.
“Max, we love that about you. No matter how messy the situation, you always want to help. How is that a bad thing?” Rachel gave her a tender smile while placing her hand on Max’s and caressing her with her thumb. “You have to admit though, it was a bit fucked-up.”
“It was but I’m sure it was an accident.” Max wasn’t about to defend him, it’s not like she was David’s biggest fan but she didn’t believe that he would do something like this on purpose either. “Chloe’s reaction is understandable to some extant…” The brunette tried to explain without taking her eyes off from where her fingers played with Rachel’s.
“You’re right but she’s making progress.” Rachel admitted.
“Tremendous.” Max acknowledged, thinking about how much Chloe had grown, feeling proud of her despite her earlier annoyance at the punk.
“Come here.” Rachel said after studying her partner. She spread her arms and invited Max over who gladly accepted, shuffling towards the other’s embrace. “We will figure it out, together.” Rachel said affectionately.
“Thanks.” Max muttered from where she lay in the other’s arms.
“How about we have some dinner and then lie in bed and you can bore me to death with some weird movie or game you played?” Rachel joked as she tickled Max who giggled next to her.
“Hey! If you gave them a chance, I’m sure you would love them!” She protested as she tried to escape from her girlfriend’s assault.
“I highly doubt that babe. I may be open to many things but even I don’t tread down that path!” Rachel chuckled as Max’s face switched from feigning offence to laughing from all the tickling.
“I was going to offer to cook dinner but after that I refuse. You make me food.” Max crossed her arms defiantly when she eventually managed to break free from the other.
“Alright, but only because it means you get to do the dishes afterwards.” Rachel said as she made for the kitchen.
“I think it’s because you love me so much.” Max called out from behind her, flashing a huge, bright smile to match those Colgate commercials.
“Can’t argue with that fact.” Rachel beamed at her one last time before starting dinner preparations.
At some point during the night Max had gotten up to drink some water, carefully moving in the dark so as to not wake up Rachel who was sleeping besides her. She had wanted to stay up and wait for Chloe to return but as time passed and the other hadn’t showed up, the two women had decided to call it a night and went to bed in Rachel’s room after watching a movie that had left the model with more questions than answers.
Max was still groggy as she took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water, when she noticed a tall figure leaning against the windowsill, blowing cigarette smoke out into the night’s sky and almost giving her a heart attack.
“Hey.” Chloe said in a low voice.
“Oh Jesus, you scared me.” The brunette hissed, holding the glass close to her to avoid breaking one more. “You’re up late.” Max remarked, as she put the glass in the sink and walked over to Chloe, resting against the wall and crossing her arms.
“Couldn’t sleep.” She said and took another drag from her cigarette. “Look, Max. I’m sorry about earlier today. That was way out of line.”
Max shrugged it off “It hurt Chloe. I won’t lie. I know I wasn’t the best at keeping in touch, but I honestly don’t know what else to do to make it up to you. Holding it over my head every time you get angry is not fair.”
“You’re right. There’s no excuse. I am really sorry Max.” Chloe sounded sincere and dejected at the same time while she put out the cigarette in an ashtray that rested on the windowsill.
Max unfolded her arms and placed her hand on Chloe’s tattooed bicep. Thumb running over green and red lines as her eyes followed the movement as if seeing it for the first time.
“I’m sorry too. I promise I will never leave you again Chloe. If you knew how much I love you…” Voice filled with so much emotion for the gravity of the statement that made Chloe’s heart clench.
“I know Max. I know because you never fail to show me, I’m just a jerk that makes you feel like you constantly have to prove it to me, but you don’t and I’m sorry if I made you feel that way.” Chloe looked her straight in the eyes. Blue mirroring blue. “I love you Max. You have always and will always be my partner in time.”
Max smiled, feeling herself relax as Chloe pulled her into a warm embrace, her anxiety evaporating with every second that ticked away in the other’s arms and feeling a sturdy, warm body against her. She breathed in deeply, the smell of tobacco and what was uniquely Chloe evading her senses.
“I sometimes still get fucking terrified that I might lose you and just the thought-“ Max whispered in Chloe’s skin while pressing her face further into the nook of the punk’s neck as if trying to become one with her.
“You are not going to lose me Max.” Chloe drew her in tighter, her hand coming to rest on Max’s head to thread long fingers through brown locks.
“But what if I lose my powers and something happens to you or Rachel? What if I can’t save you?” Max couldn’t stop the questions spilling out of her mouth like an overfilled glass of water as her anxiety got the better of her.
“It’s not your job to save us Max.” Chloe said once she held her partner at arms-length and looked her straight in the eyes. Her words may have been coarse, hitting a raw nerve somewhere deep in Max, but they held the truth, a truth that Max needed to hear and most importantly to understand and come to terms with. “We want you in our lives Max but not as our bodyguard.” At hearing that, the brunette did smile a bit. “I need you in my life. Five fucking years apart was already too much and today knowing that I was the reason for driving you away scared the shit out of me. I was so angry at myself.”
“You didn’t drive me away.”
“But my words did cause I lashed out again and for that I’m sorry.”
Max focused on a pair of pale turmoiled eyes, feeling her heart hammer against her chest as she lifted her hand to cup Chloe’s cheek and bring her in for a tender kiss.
“I guess that means apology accepted?” The punk grinned into the kiss before returning it.
“Dork.” Max huffed out a laugh before pulling away and taking Chloe by the hand, leading them into her room which was furthest from Rachel’s, not wanting to risk waking her up with their talking.
They sat on the bed, the only light coming from the moon outside, casting its silver glow on them with Max between Chloe’s legs, back against her chest and Chloe’s arms around her.
“Remember that day when we blew up the heads of your dolls and nearly set fire to your room?” Max spoke up, breaking the comfortable silence that had encircled them as she turned her head to look at the other.
“Dude! We totally fucked’em up!” Chloe exclaimed. “Where did that come from?” She asked, curious as to what had made Max remember something so specific.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about our time together all day today…” Max trailed off, not wanting to sour the mood again. Chloe hugged her tighter as if saying it was okay.
“Do you remember that treasure map which send us on a wild goose chase around the house?” Chloe said, resting her cheek on Max’s shoulder with the faintest of smiles on her lips at the sentimental recollection.
“Oh my God! Yes! And we ended up finding a time capsule in your garden.” Max replied with a fond smile but knew she needed to be carefully with her words. Because that was the same day Chloe had received the grave news of her father’s passing and her move shortly after. She would never forget that moment, how she had held Chloe as the older wept in her arms, Max not being able to hold back her own tears either. Feeling so helpless and not knowing how to ease her best friend’s grief.
“I know what you’re thinking. That was the same day…” Chloe said, looking despondent.
“Chlo.” Max moved to sit next to the punk so she could be the one holding her in her arms, as the other hid her face in the nook of Max’s neck.
“I miss him so much Max.” Chloe said in a trembling voice, her heart feeling heavy in her chest where a hole lay barren, never fully healing even as years faded away. Just learning how to deal with the emptiness inside that came with losing a parent.
“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” Max reassured Chloe who simply breathed in and curled up in Max’s arms. She didn’t cry, hadn’t in years. After some point the tears dried up and left you bereft.
That night Chloe lay in Max’s room, nestled in a fetal position with Max glued to her side, caressing her until she fell into a dreamless sleep. She was not looking forward to the upcoming weeks leading to the anniversary but she knew she had to patch things up with her mom and yes, even David. It would be a trying period for Joyce as well and Chloe no longer had the strength to pretend that it was alright to carry all this burden on her shoulders even if she still sometimes tried.
All this would have to wait for the next day though. Now all that mattered was the warm body next to her and Max’s soft touches lulling her to sleep.