The tattooed punk had a rekindled sense of resolve. She wasn’t sure exactly how she was going to win her time traveling hippie back, but she knew she was going to. Long Max Silver and Captain Blue Beard’s adventures were far from over, that much she knew – and she suspected her partner knew the same. It made sense that Max wasn’t answering her calls, she was hurt and felt betrayed. She, too, remembered the feeling of someone she loved betraying her. Chloe’s typical reaction was that of anger and rage. Max’s would be the opposite. She would completely shut down and probably go numb. It broke Chloe’s heart knowing the pain she caused but was sure she could make things right, and she was confident this experience would only make them stronger.
Chloe had this grand fantasy schemed up in her head. She would show up at the Caulfield’s house at 2am with a boom box overhead, “Say Anything”-style, blasting fucking Peter Gabriel. That was probably not going to actually happen, but she would do it if it meant making Max feel better and get over this bump in the road. She needed more, though. Something with fewer bells and whistles and more goop. The way to Max’s heart was honest and pure emotion, she just knew it.
Nearly seven hours down the road, Chloe received a phone call. “Go for Chlo.” She never answered the phone in that manner but felt renewed and hopeful. Her voice bounced with each syllable.
“Professor Price,” a sultry voice requested, “look in your rearview.”
She was hoping Max would be on the line, but this was unexpected. “Rachel? What are you doing?”
“Look in your mirror, dummy.”
Glancing up, she spotted a shiny black convertible sports car. The top was down, and an exceptional beauty with sunglasses was in the driver’s seat. “Holy shit, you’re right behind me! Why?”
“Well, I felt bad I stayed out late and didn’t get a chance to wake you. The other girls said you fled the loft like a bat out of hell. After the audition, I figured it would be a good chance to spend a week in Arcadia Bay. I haven’t been back in a while.”
Chloe thought of it right away. She was presented an opportunity and wondered if Rachel would be willing to help her out of her current predicament. “Nice wheels, Rach.”
“It was going to be a surprise, but I actually caught up to you. I couldn’t resist calling.” Her devious smirk could clearly be seen through the rearview mirror. The actress impishly asked, “Wanna race?”
“Uh, no. Unless you’re willing to scrape up blue hair and badass tat splatters from the asphalt. Damn thing’ll blow up if I push her.”
“How in the hell do you make gross shit sound poetic, Chloe Price?”
“It’s a gift?… Maybe a curse. Either way, I’m glad you’re here. I need your help.”
“Sure, anything for you.”
The girls discussed how Max reacted to the news about their kiss. Rachel chided Chloe for dropping the bomb that way. “Didn’t I tell you to do it in person? I swear I did. What sort of idiot says something like that on the phone?”
“This bitch, that’s who.” Chloe reached her arm out of the window pointing back to herself, which drew a cackle from her friend in the car behind her.
They continued joking and chatting while making their way northward towards their destination. Rachel agreed to help but wasn’t sure if it was a good idea for her to accompany Chloe to Max’s house. If Chloe wanted reconciliation, maybe bringing the person who kissed her girlfriend to her front door was not the best idea. “Gotta risk it to get the biscuit,” Chloe joked.
The truck driver kept them on schedule, hustling from one stop to the next. They, of course, had to stop to use the restroom and fill up, but Chloe insisted they hurry. “Pinch it off, let’s go!” the playful, blue- headed girl called out each time Rachel was mid-pee. The Redbull kept them going strong, and Chloe refused to stop for sleep, despite the actress’s pleas.
It brought Chloe a deep sense of peace road tripping with her guileful friend, not only because she’d missed the girl and the exciting times they once had together, but also the idea of Max and Rachel becoming friends was a dream of hers. She imagined all three of them hanging out together and was sure her two besties would hit it off.
Hours rolled by and daytime turned to night, followed by nighttime blurring into morning. Before long, the girls were in Seattle. Having never been there, Chloe relied on her phone’s navigation system and the address Max sent her years before. They pulled into the Caulfield’s subdivision and Chloe stopped at the clubhouse. Rachel pulled up beside her and rolled the window down. “Why are you stopping?”
“There’s something I need to write – a poem I’ve been thinking about during our trip. Also… I’m nervous as shit.” She found a white, unused napkin and a pen from the Two Whales. Her confidence the day before had diminished slightly. She had not seen her little photographer since they jumped back to their pirate days, and the baggage they were both carrying since then was weighing down heavy.
“Hurry up, let’s do this thing,” the blonde impatiently requested. “By the way, you’re cute as fuck when you’re nervous,” she said with a wink and a grin.
After a few minutes, Chloe folded the napkin three times and put it in the front pocket of her unbuttoned faux leather jacket. “I’m gonna try calling her again.” The phone rang four times, and as she was about to end the call, she heard the voice she’d been longing to hear.
“Chloe.” Max’s voice rattled and shook before she cleared it with a small cough.
“Max? Max! Oh, thank you for answering. Dammit!” It felt like a fifty-pound sack of sugar from the diner had been placed on her chest. Breathing suddenly became difficult. She could hear her heart pounding in ears.
“I’m sorry for shutting you down yesterday, Chloe. My heart feels so empty and destroyed.”
“No! Fuck no, don’t you dare apologize to me. This is how you react, it’s natural. You’re hurting because of me, but I’m going to make this right.” She fired the truck back up and started towards the Caulfield’s residence. “I’m almost at your house, Super Max! Goddammit, I can’t wait to see you!”
“You’re here?” a barely awake Max asked.
“Right down the road!” She could see what she believed was her house from the stop sign on the hill. As she made the turn onto Max’s street, she saw the light come on from her upstairs bedroom window near the backside of the house. “So. Fucking. Close! See you in a minute!” Chloe ended the call and parked in the driveway. Rachel parked in front of the house near the mailbox.
Chloe strolled to the sports car and asked her friend to stay inside until she motioned her over. She, again, questioned if this was the right way for Chloe to approach the situation but didn’t put up too much of an argument. She was too exhausted from the drive.
A pale moon cast a thin light as Chloe walked around to the back of the house and found a small pebble. She tossed it up to the window with the light spilling out making a clinking noise. Max opened the window immediately. “Chloe!”
“Oh my god, Max! Should I have brought a boombox and played ‘In Your Eyes’?” the road warrior asked in jest.
“You’re such a damn dork.” Chloe was relieved to see the corner of Max’s mouth angled upward in a sort of half-smile. Her beautiful pearly, sapphire eyes looking down from above, mixed with the orange glow of the nearby streetlamp, appeared pure and angelic.
“I have something for you,” she called up. Looking down she found a rock half the size of her fist. She wrapped the napkin from her pocket around the stone and tossed it up. She missed the window opening the first time, and it landed back down beside her with a thud. “Shit. Ok, here we go.” The second attempt was perfect. It landed inside the bedroom. The freckled angel stepped away from her window, unwrapped the napkin, and sat on her bed to read the poem.
After a minute or so, the girl upstairs dried her eyes and walked back over to the window. “You wrote this? Chloe, it’s perfect.”
“So, can I come in or should I stand out here freezing my ass off?” It was not a particularly cold morning, but the windchill nipped at her with an icy bite.
“It’s great to see you, but I think I need more time. I’m still hurting and don’t know how to process everything.”
“I know, Max. Let’s have some coffee and chat or something. I have another surprise for you too, but not until you let me in.” The window was shut, and the Max moved back and out of sight. Chloe walked around to the front of the house hoping the front door would be unlocked for her.
Six steps lead up to the front porch. An overly opulent storm door separated the outside elements from the glossy red front door. Chloe heard the deadbolt slide from the locked position followed by the doorknob turning. The door slowly creaked open. Standing before her was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. It was her perfect person. “Max… You look beautiful.”
“I’m in my PJs and my hair is atrocious.” Her head was sloughed to the side, and the pigments in her face had shifted from a pale white to a deep pink. “And I’m sure I have morning breath.”
“Mmmm. I love your morning breath,” the punk responded with a cheesy sneer. “Come out on the porch before we go in, I have something to show you.”
“It’s too windy, I don’t do cold very well.”
Opening the storm door, Chloe gingerly grabbed Max’s hand and walked her outside. After the door sprang shut, she removed her jacket and put it on the younger girl’s shoulders. “You look damn good in my clothes.” They walked over to the porch swing and both sat down, cuddling up to keep warm.
“Ok, so I know things between us are pretty rocky, but I love the shit outta you, Caulfield. I messed up, and I know it hurt you. But I’m here now, with you. We have to put this behind us and move forward.”
“All I can think about is your lips on hers. I keep seeing you two together when I close my eyes. You promised that wouldn’t happen and yet it did. I love you too, but how can trust you now? How can I trust these feelings are real?”
“I’ll have just prove it to you over and over and…” Chloe reached up to adjust her beanie while thinking of the next words she’d say. Mistaking the arm movement for a signal, her blonde friend opened the car door and approached the porch. Max’s body was angled towards the house and didn’t notice the girl coming towards them at first. When Chloe spotted the actress, she recoiled and made an arm motion indicating it wasn’t time yet.
“What the fuck?” she heard the brunette shockingly say. “Is that Rachel Amber? You brought Rachel with you?” Pushing away and jumping up, Max threw Chloe’s jacket on the porch and ran back inside.
“Shit, that didn’t go well,” the exhausted sports car driver commented.
Chloe sprang up and follow Max inside. The blonde also entered the house immediately behind her friend. They ran up the stairs and into the hipster’s bedroom. Max had just buried her head in a pillow, face down on the bed.
“Don’t Chloe. Why the fuck would you bring her here?” Max stood up to face the girl.
Stepping into the room behind the taller girl, Rachel broke in, “See, I told you this was a bad idea.”
“Shut up, Rachel. Listen, Max, she has something she wants to tell you.” Chloe’s tone was desperate. Looking at Rachel, she raised her eyebrows and tilted her head in her girlfriend’s direction.
Looking into Max’s disheartened eyes, Rachel stepped between her and Chloe. Max and Rachel meeting each other was a moment Chloe had dreamed about. She didn’t expect it to be under these circumstances, however. But a part of her was still excited to just watch their meeting unfold.
The blonde slowly approached and squinted her eyes with her head falling left then right as if evaluating the brunette. “Max,” she said, “you are gorgeous in person. I thought that selfie was hot, but damn.”
“I don’t think you…” Max couldn’t get her full reply out. As soon as she began speaking, Rachel grabbed her face and tightly pushed her lips against Max’s. The brunette’s eyes instinctually closed, and she didn’t pull away out of pure shock and disbelief. Ending the kiss with a loud smack, Rachel smiled and wiped the corner of her mouth.
Chloe’s eyes nearly popped out of her skull. “Fucking shit!” She incredulously called out, eyelids wide and mouth hanging open. She had just witnessed her two best friends, one being her girlfriend and one being her ex, kiss right in front of her.
“Now you two are even,” the sneaky girl commented with a small chuckle seeming proud of herself. “You taste good, Max.”
The room fell silent. The only sounds were a swooshing from the ceiling fan and the hum of a plugged-in electrical device. The threesome looked back and forth from one another not knowing what to say.
Finally, Rachel broke the silence. “Listen, Max. First, it’s very nice to meet you. I’ve only heard great things. Second, what just happened between you and me, that’s exactly what happened with me and Chloe. I made the move and… she pushed me off. You didn’t even pull away… just saying. Please don’t question her commitment, all she talks about is how perfect you are, and I can see why. Also, to be honest, you and I just kissed longer than Chloe and I did, so…”
“Rachel,” Max began, “I… I… wow.”
“Don’t you go falling in love with her, Maxi Max!” Chloe joked as she sometimes did when she felt awkward, but there was a hint of sincerity in her voice. “I mean it.”
“I am very damn tired and you two have a lot to discuss. Max, would it be cool with you if I crash in your bed?”
“They’re not Egyptian cotton,” she joked, “but I suppose it’s fine.”
Immediately after getting the go ahead, the blonde took her shoes off and snuggled beneath the covers. Before falling asleep, Chloe heard Rachel tell Max, “You really have a great thing here. Chloe is the most loyal and dedicated friend I’ve ever had. She’s great, and it looks like you two are a perfect fit. I won’t lie though, I’m jealous. If I didn’t know how much you meant to each other…” She trailed off as she yawned then rolled over and fell asleep. Max made sure her new friend was tucked in and comfortable.
“I really need a shower, Mad Max. Do you mind?”
“Of course not.” She gathered a towel and a fresh loofah for her girlfriend to use.
After several minutes, Max cracked the door and stuck her head in the bathroom. “You’ve been in there awhile, is everything okay?” she asked over the noise of the water and the bathroom steam fan.
“Max! Join me.” Her face poked through the shower curtain with a large grin and bouncing eyebrows.
“My parents are right downstairs.” She stepped in and closed the door behind her.
“We could get caught, makes it exciting. Come on!”
“After the last few days, I don’t think now’s the right time for our first time,” the younger girl said shaking her head, then whispered, “my first time.”
“I’ll make you forget all about the last few days. There’s no better way to say I’m sorry than this. Seriously, I want to make you feel good. Max, you’re gonna love it.”
“I know, Chloe, but I want our first time to be special, not in fear of getting caught by my parents. I don’t think they even know about us yet.”
“You’re right. I want it to be hella special for you too.” Chloe turned the water off and opened the curtain allowing Max a full view of her frame. “But are you suuuuure?”
“Wowser,” was all the freckled brunette could say, her eyes scanning her girlfriend’s still wet body.
“We’ll just let this be a tease for now,” she smirked. “Can you get my my towel?” Max handed her the cloth that had been placed on the counter, then quickly left the room. Chloe wondered if she was being too audacious. An hour ago, she wasn’t even sure if Max was ready to forgive her. Now, she was teasing the girl, with her bare naked body. Maybe she ought to slow it down a bit, especially since she knew it would be her best friend’s first time. From her understanding, most people weren’t afforded a special first-time experience; she knew she wasn’t. But Maximillion was not most people. She deserved the best of everything, and that was Chloe’s newest goal in life, to provide special experiences for her partner.
She then joined Max and Rachel in the bedroom. Rachel was still passed out and Chloe was barely hanging on. “It won’t be weird if I sleep in your bed too, will it? I mean, if it will, I can sleep on the floor. I badly need to crash dude.”
“Not at all, go ahead.” After Chloe quickly pecked Max on the cheek, she snuggled under the covers. Max grabbed her polaroid and dove between the girls.
“Photobomb,” the punk said, as Max held the camera up for a selfie.
Without missing a beat, the photographer replied, “Photo hog.” She snapped a picture of just the duo, then another including a sleeping Rachel. The two girls shared a series of light kisses that were only stopped because of a yawn. “Ok, go to sleep. I love you, Chloe.”
“Love you too, Maximus.”
Max got up and sat at her computer watching the girls sleep. She considered trying to go back to sleep herself but was not particularly tired. She felt terrible about shutting down the previous day. It wasn’t who she wanted to be. Chloe, with the help of Rachel, made it clear she would never betray her. They had the rest of their lives to be together, and they would most definitely not agree on everything. Many more fights and quarrels would happen, but she was determined never to let any obstacle come between them again.
It felt like a new day was on the horizon, and she had seen the light. If she and Chloe were together and safe, she felt like anything was possible. With Rachel alive and in town, she was not sure how the day would play out once they awoke. Her desire was to spend as much time as possible with her girlfriend before having to go back to Arcadia Bay.
How was she supposed to act like a typical high school senior after everything that had happened? She had experienced a lifetime of challenges within the last month. Maybe Blackwell was not where she was supposed to be anymore. She knew her credits could easily transfer to a local Seattle school.
In two days, she was expected to return. If Chloe was with her wherever she went, was there anything anchoring her to the Bay? She missed Kate and Joyce, and hoped Warren was happy, but other than them and a handful of others, she really didn’t care what happened to anyone else. She felt cynical. It was not that she didn’t value the lives of thousands of people, she did care about others. She just valued something else even greater. The pure love she had for her Chloe trumped all else.
It was still strange having memories of herself making the decision, to photo jump back to the bathroom, that allowed her precious Chloe to die. It was a decision she knew she wouldn’t make again, given the choice. A part of her hated herself for even considering a future where the light of her world was extinguished. The idea of it chilled her to the bone. At the time, she thought she was honoring her friend by doing as she asked, but she knew damn well Chloe didn’t always know what was best. Even when they were fighting the day prior, she never really considered not being around her partner in crime ever again. Life didn’t seem worth living without her.
As lunchtime was approaching, Max began to get sleepy sitting in her quiet and dimmed room. Chloe and Rachel were still asleep, so she pushed them apart and nuzzled in between. It felt surreal. Not too long before, she spent the better part of a week playing detective, searching for the blonde. Then they discovered her body in the junkyard. Now, she was in her bed lying beside her very much alive and well. It was bizarre but felt nice.
Turning to her left side to face the punk, she kissed her on the forehead and shut her eyes.