Chloe was already inside the coffee shop when Rachel walked in. “You’re not about to burn down a forest, are you?” Chloe said behind a playful grimace. “The last time I saw that look in your eyes…”
“Chloe, what’s going on?” Rachel looked furious and demanded answers. The girl was stunning, but when she got fired up, she became ferocious.
“First, I need to do something. This is for Max.” Chloe walked up and casually gave her fiery friend a hug. “She wanted me to tell you, ‘thank you’. Thank you for saving me and keeping me safe while she was in Seattle.”
The blonde’s eyebrows were pulled downward, and her shoulders thrust upward. “So, this is the same Max who deserted you when you were kids?”
Without pause, Chloe proclaimed, “That’s the one! She’s my person, Rach.” She took a deep breath, held it for a couple of seconds, and exhaled. “Let’s sit and talk. There’s so much more I need you to know.”
Rachel joined her at a booth near the coffee prep area. “You’re dating Max, is that all you want to tell me?”
“No,” the taller girl answered, “That’s not even half of what I need to say.” The girls faced directly across from one another. Chloe reached forward and grabbed Rachel’s right hand, cupping it between both of hers. She pulled away at first, then reluctantly allowed her hand to be held.
“I love you, Rach. You mean so much to me. You came into my life exactly when I needed. My father died, Max moved away, and I was in a very, very dark place. You made life feel worth living again. I’ll never be able to express what our time together means to me.” She felt a sense of clarity wash through her, like a feeling of renewed confidence. She knew what she needed to tell the blonde; she just wasn’t sure exactly how to do it.
Chloe released the actress’s hand. “I need to tell you a story that you’re gonna think is hella insane in the brain. But I promise, it’s true. Just trust me.” Rachel’s left eyebrow was arched up with a look of intrigue.
“Well, I did trust you until whatever that shit was today in the park.” Her partial smirk let Chloe know she was ready to forgive her. They’d been through a ton together and could still read each other’s mannerisms like a book. “You’re so stinking hot right now.”
“Stop that, down girl. Just let me talk for a while to try and get my thoughts out, save your questions until the end. I’d be a good college professor, yeah?”
“You’re adorable, Professor Price. It definitely has a nice ring to it.”
“OK. So, uh, you know Max and I met each other when we were kids. You know we were inseparable then, and you know we played pirates literally all the time. Remember, you made fun of me for the pirate stuff? Anyway, then my dad died, and her mom and dad took her away from Arcadia Bay – away from me. Those are the things you know about us.”
Rachel shook her head. “I also know she totally ghosted you when you needed her the most.” Her words felt venomous but not completely untrue.
“Yeah, that was… tough. She still beats herself up nearly every day because of it. Come to find out, it wasn’t even her fault. Her parents cut us off and practically forced her to disappear on me.” Sticking out her tongue, Chloe added, “No comments until the end of the lecture, Miss Amber!”
She didn’t really know how to bring up the whole time travel thing, so she just continued. “Max is… special. See, there was this note…. no, not that yet. Maybe, no.” She was rambling. “Ok, I got it.” She realized she would have to start at the actual beginning. It seemed to be the only way she would even have a remote shot at convincing her of the truth.
“Remember how earlier I sorta said you were missing? Well, you were. You were drugged and killed by Nathan Prescott. He didn’t mean to; it was an overdose… thing. You WERE caught up in the Jeffershit stuff, and I posted flyers all over town searching for you. But Max and I found your body buried in the junkyard. It was horrible, Rach, a goddamn nightmare!” Chloe was sure her friend had no idea her mouth was hanging open. There is no way she believed the story so far, but she had to continue. Maybe the tears in her eyes at least confirmed she wasn’t joking.
“Nathan also tried to pull me into that shit, but I luckily got the hell outta there. I saw it as an opportunity to blackmail him and get some cash. I owed Frank nearly 3k at the time. So, I asked him to meet me in the girl’s restroom at Blackwell. He brought a gun and shot me. I can still feel bullet clawing and burning its way through my body. Everything slowed to a snail’s pace. The pain was replaced with this deep, freezing chill. God, it was so cold!” She wiped the moisture from her cheeks. “I died on the fucking floor, Rachel.”
“So, now we’re both dead?” Rachel denounced. “Chloe, are you on fucking drugs?” It made perfect sense she wouldn’t believe her outrageous story. It sounded ridiculous even to her. She heard the words coming out of her mouth and hardly believed what she was saying.
“Oh, this is the part of the story where our superhero shows up. Max Caulfield has this… power. She can rewind time, and I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s true. She was in the restroom that day. Max rewound and saved me from being shot. She used her power to go back and save you too. Here’s the kicker, Rachel.” She leaned in close to the actress, lowering her voice. “She went back to save you knowing how much I cared about you. She’s in love with me, not sure why, but she put her happiness on the line for your safety. How amazing is that? Max is… well… she’s incredible.”
Squinting and shaking her head, Rachel was in disbelief. “I don’t know what to say, Chloe. Are you telling me the friend that ghosted you showed up years later at the exact right time, with a superpower and saved your life, then saved mine?”
The blue-haired girl cut her eyes left then right, an impish grin forming on her lips, then said, “Yep, pretty much. And for some of us more than once.” She filled in the details over the next two hours. The girls ordered coffees and discussed everything from time travel and photo jumping, to Max’s big heart and the letter that saved Rachel’s life. The blonde asked questions as an attempt to get the story straight. Eventually, she seemed convinced that Chloe believed everything she was saying. She still didn’t know if her friend was convinced.
“So, if the two timelines were merged, why don’t I remember anything besides leaving Arcadia Bay? Wouldn’t I also remember the Nathan/Jefferson stuff? This is a little hard to wrap my brain around, Chloe. I’m just… I don’t know.”
“I’m still learning the rules and everything, but I think because I photo jumped with Max, we’re the only two who remember both realities. I’m not totally sure. It took me some time to process, but when I saw it with my own eyes, the proof was in the pudding, as they say. Max is just so amazeballs!”
“The way your face lights up when you speak about her. Damn, Chloe, I feel like a fool. You’ve got it bad for her don’t you?”
With a silly sideways smirk on her face, the taller girl simply nodded.
“Do you have a picture; I don’t even remember what she looks like?”
“I think I showed you a photo maybe once. Back then, you were my future and she was my past. Oh, idea. I have some on my phone, but let’s get a new one.” Chloe smiled, pulled out her phone, and send her girlfriend a text.
Chloe: Hey beautiful!!
Max: CHLOE! <3 <3 <3 How’s the trip?
Chloe: Send me a selfie, it’s for Rachel.
Chloe: OR… we should Facetime!
Max: Oh dog, do I have to?
Max: I’m about to meet Tom.
Chloe: Shit I forgot about that
Chloe: Be careful, Max!
Chloe: Send a quick pic
“Shit, Rach, did you feel that?”
“I dunno… like the earth stopped spinning then started again. Like a mini earthquake or something.”
“Are you so in love with this girl that she moves the earth?”
“There’s a damn good chance. But, really, you didn’t feel it?”
Chloe: Whoa, you’re actually smiling! 😀
Max: Am I trying too hard? Don’t wanna disappoint Rachel.
Chloe: Never. She says hi btw
Max: Did you thank her for me?
Chloe: Yea, of course
Chloe: Can’t wait to see you
Max: Talk soon <3
Chloe: Not soon enough!
Max: Love you
Chloe: Love you too, dork
Chloe held the phone up for Rachel to see. “Feast your eyes!” She wondered how Max would react if she could see her bragging. It was always cute to see her tiny shoulders slump and her face turn bright red.
“She’s gorgeous, Professor Price. No wonder you like her. But, you know, you sort of have a type now.” She had that confident, playful look in her hazel, almond eyes.
“I do not.” Chloe folded her arms and pouted.
“Yeah, you have a thing for girls who are stunningly, drop-dead beautiful,” Rachel smirked and tossed her hair to the side.
“Yeah, well I can’t help myself. It’s not like I’ve ever gone out of my way to find hotties to hook up with. They kinda find me,” the professor teased with a wink.
“Ah, so now girls are just throwing themselves at you? I mean, I can see why. You’re the hottest out of all three of us.” The actress tapped her finger on her chin several times. “Hmm. Most of my wilder days are behind me, but what are your thoughts about, well, the three of us, ya know…”
“Rachel, no! I mean, yeah, I’ve thought about it… while alone…” Chloe’s face was glowing red. “But, no.”
“Is Chloe Price blushing? Maybe we should let Max decide for herself. How could she resist both of us? After my 6am audition tomorrow, I’ll be free for like a week. I could come meet her in person and see what she thinks about it.” The blonde’s arms were crossed, and the expression on her face informed Chloe she meant what she was saying, though also joking… probably.
After a few seconds of eyeing each other, the punk finally responded, “That’s not a bad idea, in a way. No, not THAT part. I just think a Max and Rachel meeting is long overdue. It would be fantastic. She’s my everything, you’d love her to pieces.” Remembering the kiss, Chloe’s face went flush. “I’m scared, Rach. Max was worried I’d fall for you again but trusted me. I drove my tired ass all the way here to see you alive again. I know that sounds weird to you, but I don’t know how to tell her about what happened, but I have to. She deserves to know everything.”
Rolling her eyes and huffing, Rachel dryly offered her opinion. “Take it from me, the sooner you tell her the better. If something lingers between family members, or people you care about, it will do more damage long term. Think of it like ripping off the Band-Aid.”
“I’m not sure how to say it. Everything happened pretty damn fast, as you remember?”
“Do it in person, at least, as soon as you get back, and be honest. I made the move and you pushed me off. Right on my ass, I might add. Chloe, if you light up when you look at her the way you do when you talk about her, she’ll understand. I can see the way the corners of your lips curve up when you say her name. If she is even half the amazing person you make her out to be, you have nothing to worry about. Not gonna lie, though, I wish you’d choose to stay with me. But it’s obvious how much you care for the girl. If you’re happy, I’m happy for you.”
Delighted and relieved by Rachel’s words, Chloe got up and slid in the booth on the same side as her friend. The girls shared a side hug. “It’s great to hear you say that, Rach. I am very happy. Max has this huge heart, and she’s… god, I dunno! She’s made her fair share of mistakes. None of it matters, though, she’s my perfect person. Dammit, I’m all mushy now in my old age.”
“You’ve always been mushy. You just hid it behind your tough punk image for so long you feel like it’s not who you are, but it is. Plus, you’re hardly old. You’ll be twenty soon. Your best days are ahead of you. I just hope I can be a part of those days one way or another.” The sincerity in her voice made Chloe smile.
“Ideally, you, me, and Max will all be able to be friends and hang out together. That’s in the utopian world in my mind. But you’ll be a big-time movie star soon and you’ll forget all about us little people.” She nudged the actress with her elbow, who returned with a playful, open hand push nearly knocking her out of the booth.
Realizing the time, Chloe knew she needed to go back. “It’s getting late and I have a full day’s drive ahead of me.”
“Feels like you just got here. Do you have to leave so soon? You can stay the night with me. I promise I won’t try anything on you, unless…” Her smile was more of a simper. But Chloe knew she would give her space if she stayed.
“I really can’t. After what happened in the park, I’m already going to have to earn Max’s trust back. If I stay the night, she might never forgive me.”
“She will forgive you, Chloe. Come on! It will be better than sleeping in your truck again. I share a loft, so I only have the one bedroom. You can sleep in my bed or on the couch. I will tell you, my bedsheets are Egyptian cotton.” She raised her eyebrows up and down several times.
“Hmm,” the truck driver considered. “Naah, the couch sounds great. Thank you for being cool about this. I’ll sleep for a few hours then be on my way.”
“I have to show you my new tattoo before you go to sleep,” the guileful girl asserted. “I know you’ll love it.” Tattoos were a bonding mechanism for the girls a few years back. Rachel helped Chloe pick out the yellowed skull portion of her tattooed arm. The sleeve consisted of butterflies and flowers, and Rachel insisted the skull be included.
“Oh, new ink? Can’t wait to see it.” Chloe yawned, realizing how tired she was from the drive and lack of rest. “Can we go back to your place now? I’d really like to go ahead and lie down.”
“Yeah, of course. But you won’t get any sleep on the couch, it’s super early. There will be folks in and out. And in L.A., some people are just getting up and going out now. You can lie down in my bed and I’ll wake you when I go to sleep.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She was more tired than she thought. The idea of those Egyptian cotton sheets against her body sounded great. “Rach, mind if I also shower?” The blonde shook her head.
The two friends left the coffeehouse with a destination for the loft. On the way, Chloe thought about calling Max, but figured her (hopefully still) girlfriend would call her when she was ready.
Once they arrived, they headed straight for Rachel’s room. She shut the door, removed her shirts and top, and proceeded to show the punk her new ink. It stretched across the top half of her back, from one shoulder to the other. It was a doe set against a background of flames with elegant lilac and sapphire coloring, not unlike her visitor’s hair. Beneath it, on a scroll banner, the words in inch blocks read: EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
After her shower, Chloe had her final smoke and chatted with her friend and loft mates for a little bit on the balcony. Before long, the girl was back inside and snuggled beneath the expensive sheets. She looked forward to the long drive because she would finally get to see her little superhero the next day. Rachel considerately made sure her friend was tucked in, then she left to go to a party with her loft mates.
The blue-haired visitor set her alarm to vibrate and put the phone on her chest so she wouldn’t miss any notifications. Once asleep, she had very disjointed and incoherent dreams; mainly Max and Rachel’s faces swirling around amongst different fragmented scenarios.
Sometime during her slumber, she rolled over from her back to her side. The phone slid from her shirt and down between the wooden frame of the bed and the mattress, which practically muted any vibrations she would have felt. One missed alarm, eight missed calls, ten unread texts, and 12 hours later, Chloe was still passed out.