She had only been asleep maybe a half-hour as indicated by the clock on her nightstand. Ryan and Vanessa were both gone when Max left the bed and went downstairs.
Her father was on a seven-day rotation at work, so he was rarely around. Her mother left a note on the fridge saying she’d be away most of the day. Max reckoned the two sleepy heads upstairs might be out for a while, so she made a bowl of cereal and a coffee. Her tastes had evolved over the years, and she wondered if she was growing too pretentious, but the taste of her parents’ Keurig coffee was absolutely awful. The only way she would be able to consume the dose of caffeine she needed, however, was to suffer through what was readily available.
After finishing her bowl of cereal, and drinking most of her beverage, Max noticed a girl looking down at her from upstairs. “You do have more coffee, right?” the blonde optimistically asked. She confidently swung her arms, bouncing from one stair to the next then plopped down on the stool beside the brunette.
“Rachel. Yes, uh, yeah but we only have K-Cups unfortunately.” Max sprang up and scrambled around. “How do you take it? I think they only have French vanilla and peppermint mocha creamer.”
“I don’t even care, to be honest. I just need caffeine.” Rachel’s eyes looked heavy, but there was still a radiant beauty about the girl even with bedhead and creases on her cheek from the ruffled sheets.
“About earlier…” Max timidly began, as she stirred the creamer in the steaming fresh mug of coffee she had expedited using the already warmed Keurig.
“There’s no need, Max. It was a strange situation and it’s over. I’m sorry for any trouble I caused, but when it comes to our Chloe, it’s difficult to avoid trouble, am I right?” She took her mug with both hands, not concerning herself with the handle, and enjoyed a small, slurping sip. “Fuck, that’s good.”
“Uh, it’s really not that good, it’s a K-Cup,” Max unapprovingly responded, sitting back down beside her new friend. “And yeah, trouble seems to follow Chloe around.”
“Mmm, I’d take day-old gas station coffee at this point, anything will do.” After a few more sips, the freshly caffeinated girl stood up and slid her stool closer to the time traveler. “So, I heard you can rewind time? I didn’t believe it at first, but I suppose you can prove yourself now; show me what ya got.”
“I’d really rather not, Rachel. It’s not something I use anymore unless I have to.”
“Please, Max,” the actress begged, caressing the brunette’s shoulder, sliding her hand gently up and down while looking deep into her eyes. “Chloe told me how brave you were, searching for me in a different… reality, I guess. Without even knowing me, you risked your life to find me. And you sent a letter… somehow, telling her to help me leave Arcadia Bay so I’d be safe. I’m not sure the details there but thank you for that. From what I can tell, you’re a great person.” She paused and leaned in even closer. “All I’m asking for is just a small rewind, nothing big. How would I even know you did it?”
“Well, I suppose a small one wouldn’t hurt.” She hadn’t tried using the power in a while. “Mainly I predicted future events when I convinced Chloe.”
“Oh!” Rachel perked up. “What if I tell you a phrase, one I know you would never guess, then you could rewind and tell me what I said before I say it?”
“If you think that’ll convince you, sure.”
“Ok, hmm,” the actress considered. “Ah, here we go.” She cleared her throat and began. “By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune hath mine enemies brought to this shore,” she proclaimed, in her best thespian voice.
Max knew she wouldn’t remember it, so she asked Rachel to repeat the phrase. After another listen, she was ready. “I think I got it,” she confirmed. “Here we go.” She held out her hand and rewound.
“Ok, hmm,” the actress considered… again. “Ah, here we go.” She cleared her throat and…
Max broke in, “By accident most strange, um, bountiful Fortune hath mine enemies brought to this shore?” She hoped she had gotten it right.
Rachel incredulously opened her mouth and squinted at the girl. “So, I already said that line, yeah?”
“Indeed, you did. Is that enough to prove it?”
“Well… I don’t know, maybe,” the blonde reflected.
“MAAAX!” a voice from upstairs called out. “Did you just rewind?”
Chloe bounced briskly down the stairs and joined the pair in the kitchen bar area. “You rewound, didn’t you?”
“How did you know that?” Rachel probed, a crease forming on her forehead.
“We’re connected in this thing, Rach.” She leaned over and kissed her girlfriend on top of her head, then made herself a cup of coffee. “You need to warn me next time, Maximus.”
“Dayum. I know you two are like, soul mates and shit, but that’s beyond comprehension.” Rachel made a gesture as if her mind was exploding. Her nose curled up dramatically in disgust.
“We sorta just go with it,” Max commented, contently grinning ear to ear and shrugging. “We’re Max and Chloe.”
“See, Rach, she’s a mushy goop, just like me now.”
“Yuck, you’ve morphed into one being, it appears. More like Pricefield, I’d say.” The girls all laughed and finished their coffees.
“So, Max?” The actress had a puckish look on her face. “I threw this idea out to Chloe, and she was against it, but I figured I’d get your thoughts, let you decide for yourself.”
“Don’t you dare, Rachel Dawn Amber!” Chloe knew exactly what she was about to suggest. She cupped her hand over the blonde’s mouth, who quickly pushed her away.
“No, I want to hear it,” Max disagreed. “What’s your idea?”
“It’s simple. We make this… um…an… amberpricefield thing, just for one night.” She bounced her eyebrows up and down and bit her lip. The brunette’s freckles seemed to disappear under the dark shade of red her pale face was turning. “I’m joking, obviously… unless…”
“I’ll speak for both of us Rachel, that’s a hard pass,” Chloe confirmed.
“Well, maybe…” Max spoke up, snickering.
The blue haired girl jerked her head in Max’s direction. “What?”
“I dunno, it could be fun, Chloe.” The time traveler couldn’t stop laughing.
“See, I knew she’d be into it,” Rachel smirked.
“No way,” Chloe firmly established.
“That’s fine,” Rachel giggled, “your loss.” Her gaze was fixed on Chloe. “As much as I’m not looking forward to being on the road again, I’m actually about to leave. I want to go see my Dad and Rose, and maybe catch up with some old friends in Arcadia Bay. And it seems you two need some alone time. I’m an amazing actress, but I’m not good at playing the third wheel.”
“Arcadia Bay,” Max shuttered. “I never want to go back to that hellhole.”
“All I wanted to do was leave that town,” Rachel responded. “It’s funny how time changes things. It’s been so long since I set foot in Acadia Bay that I sort of missed it. At least parts of it were cool.”
Rolling her eyes, Chloe snorted, “Of course you enjoyed it, everyone loved you.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” the hazel-eyed girl retorted. “So, I’m leaving. Give me a hug.” Chloe stood and exchanged a momentary embrace. “You too, Max.” She pulled Max in and kissed each girl on the cheek, then started for the door.
“Let’s meet up again before you go back to L.A., Rach. Max still has high school shit going on,” Chloe made the vomit gesture with a pointed finger and an open mouth, “so we’ll be that way soon enough.”
“That would be great,” Max agreed. “We can get some real coffee.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Rachel said with a wave and grin, then headed for the door.
“Wait!” Max stopped her new friend before she departed. “I know it’s cliché and everything, but I really want a picture of the three of us together. Rachel, would you mind?”
“I have never met a camera I didn’t love, or, that didn’t love me,” she replied with a flip of her hair. Max ran upstairs, grabbed her polaroid, and positioned the girls in front of the fireplace.
“Are you certain, Max, you don’t wanna… you know…” Rachel joked but was cut off.
“Rachel, I swear to God!” Chloe interrupted. The three friends erupted with laughter as Max snapped the photo.
The actress, again, waved goodbye and took off.
“What do you want to do today,” the taller girl playfully asked her girlfriend.
“First, I need to brush my teeth, and it’s been like a day and a half since I’ve showered.”
“Ew, gross. I knew I smelled something funky.” She pinched her nose and waved her hand in front of her face.
“Oh, shut up, Chloe. You know you love my smell.”
“We’ll see about that, Caulfield.” The taller girl stood over her partner, slowly moving her head downward, and took a deep sniff of her hair. “Confirmed, I love your smell.” Gently tilting her head back, she softly kissed the girl on the lips.
“I’d really like to get cleaned up, Chloe. I feel a little gross.” She pulled away and started for the upstairs bathroom, taking her camera and putting it in her bag first.
“Your toothbrush miiiiiight be a tiny bit wet still,” Chloe called out. “Don’t get mad… Mad Max.”
“I’m not sure I could ever get mad at you again.”
In the bathroom, Max used her still soggy toothbrush then turned on the shower and removed her clothing. Once the water heated to the desired temperature, the brunette stepped in, then proceeded to go through her washing routine. She started with shampoo, then conditioner, followed by putting body wash on her loofah and lathering up. She rinsed off and stood there just enjoying the warmth.
When she was about to shut the water off and get out, she heard the bathroom door shut. She peeked around the back side of the curtain, meeting the blue-haired girl fully disrobed and stepping in. “Hi.”
“Hi,” the brunette apprehensively responded.
“Max, I know you didn’t want anything to happen with your parents around, buuuuuut… they’re gone now, and, well… here we are.” She smiled a clumsy, goofy grin that drew a tiny giggle from her partner.
“I want this to happen so badly, I swear, but can we just talk first?” She realized her now naked friend was ready to attack her, but she needed to get something off her chest before anything else.
“Of course, and we don’t have to do anything if you’re not ready. But Goddamn, you’re so beautiful, Max.” The older girl stepped in close for a hug. Their exposed skin touching was a new and curious sensation. “So, so beautiful.” Chloe’s voice vibrated her ear just enough to send an electric chill through the younger girl’s body.
“I would never mistrust you, Chloe. I shut you out and that was wrong. My own self-doubt is sometimes the loudest voice in my head, sort of like it is right now.” She reached up and smoothed a strand of blue hair from her partner’s face. The water patterns sounded slightly different with two bodies now in the shower.
“Max, don’t you even doubt yourself. I’ll be the captain of this ship, and you’ll stay safe with me, always. On top of that, you really have a smokin’ hot body. I’m serious, it’s amazeballs, dude! I’m so lucky.”
“Chloe, maybe we’re both lucky. How many people can truly say they are in love with their best friend?”
“Hmm, sounds like you memorized part of my badass poem,” the taller girl sneered, looking down lightly brushing her lips against her friend’s.
Max marginally pulled back and bashfully nodded. “Your words were so sweet, Chloe Price. You know my heart well. I’m so thankful I get to do this with you now.”
“I wanna do everything to you, uh, WITH you, Max. You came back to me and I’m never letting you go again. You’re my perfect person…” Her voice caught. “I love you so much.” With that the shorter girl tiptoed and stuck her tongue in her girlfriend’s mouth. Chloe’s eyes popped open in surprise, but only momentarily. She grabbed the smaller girl’s head with both hands, eagerly and wildly running her fingers through saturated brown hair. Their tongues swirled and explored as their lips joined with a passionate embrace.
“Chloe,” Max began, as she gingerly pulled away, enticing a disappointing grunt from her shower mate. “Will you… show me what to do?” Her voice quivered with nervousness, as their blue eyes locked.
“You’re so cute, Maximus. I told you, I’m your captain. We’ll leave the pirate business outta this… for now. But you know what I mean.” Chloe separated the girls with a playful push. “Max Caulfield. Goddamnit. You’re perfect.”
“Shut up and kiss me, you dork.” Every second their warm bodies weren’t touching it felt like torture.
“Max, if anything is uncomfortable, or doesn’t feel good, tell me. And there’s no pressure, we can slow down or stop anytime.”
The freckled girl’s heart was beating rapidly, she had wanted this for so long, and felt more comfortable with every word spoken and every moment that passed. For the first time in as long as she could remember, she felt completely at ease. Sure, there was a degree of nervousness, but her heart was ready.
“Wowser.” She hadn’t taken in how picturesque her partner’s body was until she allowed her eyes to scan up and down, memorizing every curve and crease.
“Pretty good, right?” Chloe confidently joked, swinging her hips to the side. She reached back and adjusted the water temperature, as it had started to get a bit too cool. Then, pulling her partner towards her body, she asked, “Are you ready?”
“Very, very ready,” Max confirmed. “I’m the readiest.” She realized that may have been the dorkiest thing she’d ever said, but it seemed to ignite a fire in her partner who rapidly spun her around. She could feel her breasts and abs pressed against her back, the warm water trickling down their bodies added a level of excitement to the experience.
Max felt a new sensation. A wave of energy beginning just below her ear trickled down through her body, ending near her ankles. It was strange, but good. Crooking her neck upward and slightly back towards her partner, she located the source of the pleasure. Chloe’s tongue and lips were casually working up and down her neck. She let out a light moan, which seemed to encourage the girl behind her to increase the frequency. Each neck kiss grew sloppier and more… intense with each passing moment. Their bodies moved in sync, in a sort of rhythmic motion.
The brunette’s heart was so filled she let out a high pitched, “I fucking love you,” which, again, encouraged her partner. Following her heartfelt words, Max felt an even more extreme sensation lower on her body. She noticed Chloe’s head not in its formerly fixed location around her neck. Looking down and farther back, she recognized her punk was on her knees behind her. “Chloe, I dunno about… Oh, my dog…”
The girl couldn’t connect her thoughts and words. Her girlfriend’s tongue was forming spirals on her lower back. Her teeth tenderly contacted skin with calculated precision. Abruptly, Max was spun around again, looking straight down at a head of blue hair and a shimmering pair of blue eyes. “I fucking love you too, Maxi Max.”
Chloe kissed the girl’s stomach and bellybutton, drawing out pleasurable moans and a small giggle or two when connecting with a ticklish spot. “Do you wanna stop?” the girl on her knees asked.
“Fuck no, please.” She was about to erupt and suspected Chloe knew it. “Stop teasing me.”
Chloe’s eyebrows shot up, and a mischievous grin formed on her face. Max immediately felt her leg being lifted, coming to rest on the captain’s shoulder. The next ten minutes or so were better than the smaller girl could have imagined. Sure, she had experimented alone, but this was otherworldly. Her entire body shuddered and crumbled onto the shower floor at the end. It had become useless trying to stand at that point; her legs felt like noodles. Chloe caught her petite freckled girlfriend and joined her at the bottom of the tub.
The two girls just sat there in each other’s arms, kissing and rubbing the other’s body and enjoying the pure love they were experiencing together. Max never wanted to leave. All she wanted for the rest of her life was to be right there in that moment. Suddenly, something occurred to her. “Oh, Chloe. Do you want me to…?”
“No, Super Max. We’ll get there next time, maybe – or the time after that, or the time after that… The point is, we’ll have plenty of time to explore, and I wanted this to be all about you.” She got excited thinking about what the next time had in store.
“Oh, that reminds me,” the girls stood up and started drying off, “I want to experiment with my power today.”
“You’re not gonna rewind and re-experience THAT again, are you?” Chloe loudly cackled. “That’s not fair.”
“Chloe! I would never… although…” Max laughed and kissed her partner on the cheek. “I want to see what happens to you when I rewind, I think it’s very important.”
The lovers helped each other get dressed and sat on Max’s bed. Feeling liberated and closer than ever before, the girls continued to kiss and hug on each other. With her fingertips, the brunette traced the tattoo on Chloe’s arm. “I never asked about your tat. Is there any meaning behind it?”
“Well, I just liked the way it looked to be honest. I love butterflies and red flowers, and the colors sorta mix together in a hella badass way. The skull was Rachel’s idea. I think it all matches my personality pretty well, don’t ya think?”
“Yes, definitely. It makes me want one.”
“Fantastic idea, dude! You gotta let me help you decide what to get and where to get it.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it any other way. We’ll always be together, so you’ve got to be there holding my hand. I might be too chicken.” The photographer jumped up and grabbed her camera again from her bag. “I’m feeling sentimental and need a new shot of just us.” She pulled her girlfriend in. Just before snapping the picture, Chloe leaned in further and kissed her on the cheek.
The photo rolled out and Max grabbed it. It came into focus and she was blown away. Both girls’ eyes were shut with smiles of contentment on their faces. “This is perfect. When we grow old together, this is how I want to always remember us.” She slipped the camera back in her bag.
“I’m sure we’ll change as the years go by; I might even convince you to color your hair, Maxter.” Chloe began tracing the freckles on Max’s face with her fingertips, practically compelling her eyes to shut in enjoyment.
“Ok, Chloe, I could sit here with you all day doing just this, but there’s one thing still bothering me.” She slowly slid away from the her girlfriend for the first time in a while. “It’s been looming in the background of my mind since before we photo jumped, and it was reinforced after meeting Tom.”
“You still have your power,” Chloe confirmed, “and it should leave when your purpose is done. That about it, babe?”
“You really know me,” the time traveler said, playfully batting her eyes.
“You REALLY memorized my poem, huh?”
“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read; how could I not? How long did it take you to write it anyway?”
“Um, five minutes,” she responded with a sort of half-smirk.
“Are you cereal, Chloe?” She couldn’t believe something that amazing took such a short amount of time.
“Well, to be fair, I’d been writing it in my head since leaving L.A. Soooo, somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 hours.”
“It’s my favorite thing you’ve ever given me, hands down. I’d like to frame it at some point.” Max stood up and refocused her attention. “OK, I’m going to rewind. I want to see if I notice anything. Are you ready?”
“I’m the readiest,” the blue-headed punk said with her tongue sticking out.
“Oh, shut up!” Max grabbed the nearest pillow and hurled it in her partner’s direction, who easily batted it down. “You really are an ass; did you know that?”
“Very much aware, thank you.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you back. OK, here we go.” She held out her hand and prodded the sweet spot in her mind where the rewind power existed. Like pushing a button and discharging a pulse of electricity, time sped in reverse. She plugged the pulse almost immediately. The pillow she threw moments before struck her friend directly nearly knocking her off the bed and to the ground.
“Did you rewind just to hit me in the face with a pillow, Max?” She seemed irritated at first, but when she saw her little girlfriend giggling in her hands, she released the anger and started laughing.
“I’m sorry, Chlo, I had to.”
“Chlo? Are we going with ‘Chlo’ now?”
“Figured I’d try it out. I think it’s cute.”
“I think YOU’RE cute,” the girl who’d just been smacked with a pillow commented, moving in for a quick kiss. “I felt the rewind again but was too distracted with a damn face full of pillow to concentrate.”
“OK, for reals. Let’s wait one minute, and I’ll rewind to this exact moment.” They waited sixty seconds on the dot, and Max rewound.
“Yes! Just then, you did it!” Chloe excitedly yelled. “I can fucking feel you, Max!”
“That’s amazeballs, Chloe. It doesn’t hurt or anything does it?”
“No, not at all, just weird as shit.”
“I want to try one more thing. I’ve been thinking about you photo jumping, and it made me curious. How would you like to see if you can rewind with me too?”
“Remember in the diner when I pledged allegiance to you? Well, I meant it. I’m with you no matter what.” She ran her fingers through the brunette’s hair, tucking a strand behind her ear. You know, you really should show more of your pretty face. Don’t get me wrong, your bangs are… well, bangin’, but I’d love to see as much of you as possible.”
“Maybe I’ll try that,” the time traveler responded, “but we need to concentrate. I don’t want to mess up and have something bad happen. Now hug me, dummy. I’ll go slow.”
The girls joined together as they had prior to the photo jump several days earlier. Max searched for the meshed, syrupy rewind spot as she typically did. She pressed on it and began rewinding. It was difficult to move her head in the middle of the rewind, but she managed to do it. Pulling back and looking directly in front of her, she met another deep blue pair of eyes widened and frantically cutting left then right, up then down, and in every direction possible.
Plugging the pulse, the brunette stopped. Her girlfriend released the hug and excitedly exclaimed, “Whoa, Fuck! I can’t believe it! Did we just…”
“Shoot backwards in time? Yeppers! What do you think?”
“God, I dunno. Everything seemed warped and sorta dim and foggy, but sharp and extreme. Your face looked strained, Max. Does it hurt when you do it?”
“Not anymore. I haven’t had a nosebleed since the photo jump. I think I’m getting better at controlling it. I’m just scared I’ll end up like Tom, though.”
“Why in the hell would you end up like that nut? He was crazy.”
“The power made him that way, Chloe. It’s starting to… I dunno. The trickle through my body tingles and feels really good. I mean, not like what happened in the shower, but still good.” Max was concerned. She noticed how easy it was to rewind now, and she was starting to enjoy it.
“I won’t let you get to that point.” She leaned over and kissed her friend on the forehead then the cheek. Then, using her mouth, she traced a line over and tenderly pecked Max on the lips. Chloe had that same playful look in her eyes as she did when she stepped into the shower. “You know, your parents still aren’t home. We could…” Her voice immediately hitched. She seized over on the bed, grabbing her nose with both hands, landing on her back. “Shit!” she grimaced.
“Chloe!” Max jumped on top of her partner straddling her stomach and holding her head, each hand on either side of her face. Gooey crimson liquid began pouring from her nostrils. She removed her shirt to catch the blood and put pressure on the source. The punk fervently jerked and thrashed around. Finally, after what seemed to be several minutes, her body went limp.
Her toes dug in the sand as she looked around, unfamiliar with her surroundings. There was a large body of water directly in front of her with hotels lining a coved area. To her far right, beyond the cove and in the distance, she noticed a large pointed structure with what appeared to be a domed portion on top of a dish. She had never been there before but recognized the structure as the Seattle Space Needle.
“Pretty isn’t it?” A familiar voice came from her far left, in the only direction she hadn’t searched yet. She recognized it immediately but that only made her more confused. “I love this time of day,” he said to his tall, blue-haired daughter. “The golden hour, they call it.”