“Max… It’s time”
Max stared at her, almost drowning in fear. She could see Chloe was afraid too, but resolved. She really was ready to sacrifice herself for the town; Max could see it in her eyes.
“Chloe… I don’t want to do this!” Max said loudly. She could feel the warm tears rolling down her face, so different from the cold drops of rain.
Chloe came closer and hugged her with all the strength she had. Max grabbed her jacket like it would suffice to not lose her again. Because Max couldn’t let her go. She saw her die so many times already that the single thought of losing her again, and forever this time, was too much for her heart.
“I went through hell and back to have her at my side, alive…” She thought, sobbing uncontrollably. “And now it turns out that I had no other choice than let her go after all we went through? What kind of cruel and twisted destiny is this?”
“I know, Max” Chloe said softly in her ear. “But we have to save everybody, okay? And you’ll make those fuckers pay for what they did to Rachel”
Max couldn’t say anything. She just hold her closer than before.
“Being together this week… it was the best farewell gift I could have hoped for” She continued, with an incredible pain in her voice, trembling because of the tears “You’re my hero, Max.”
She couldn’t take it anymore. Max pulled back, grabbed Chloe’s face with both hands and kissed her. A slow, deep and hurtful goodbye kiss that Chloe returned in desperation. She didn’t want to let go either.
“I’ll always love you.” Said Chloe, and pulled back softly, looking Max right in her eyes. “Now get the hell out of here. Do it before I freak!”
Max wanted to say something. She wanted to say that she loved her too with every fiber of her being. She wanted to send Arcadia Bay straight to hell so Chloe could live. But she couldn’t say it. She never found her voice.
“This can’t be happening!” She thought in desperation. “This is my fault, this is my storm! I caused this! Why she has to die for my mistakes? Why? I need to… I love her too. I can’t let her die again. I won’t.”
“And Max Caulfield? Don’t you forget about me.”
Then she realized… maybe there was another way. A way to fix all this destruction and chaos. And she promised herself to take that chance, whatever the cost. Because she knew, after all that happened… she would do anything for Chloe Price.
She focused on the photograph and its borders began to shake a little. And then, she went back through it for the last time.
She didn’t need to open her eyes to know it had worked. Max was once again in the bathroom, behind the stall, with her camera between her hands and the blue butterfly resting almost still on the bucket at her feet.
It was a matter of time now. She could feel her heart race in her chest, full of fear. She never was so scared in her life, not even when she was standing in front of that monstrous storm. Chloe was with her, and that made her feel brave enough to handle the situation… until she gave her the photograph and asked her to go back in time to let her die.
When she heard the door opening, her heart gave a jump. It was time. She had to let Chloe, her best friend, die again. Once and for all. Alone and scared in that bathroom, thinking nobody cared about her… thinking that everyone who was important in her life abandoned her. Believing that Max left her alone for five years. Not knowing how much Max cared about her. Not knowing how much Max loved her in every way possible…
“I can’t do this.” She thought again. “I can’t just let her die this way. It’s not fair. My powers are the problem, not her being alive. I need to try, I can’t give up.”
“It’s cool, Nathan… Don’t stress… You’re okay. Just… count to three…”
It was almost time. Max stood behind the stall, trying to sneak peak at Nathan without being discovered. She could feel her hands shaking and sweating, her lips trembling every time she took a breath. “What if I screw up this again?” She thought, feeling how the fear started to take over her. “I can’t rewind again and provoque that storm… whatever happens now, I’ll have to deal with the consequences. I just hope I can.”
The door opened a second time and there she was… Chloe, with her blue hair, her ever present beanie and her beautiful, pissed off face. She stared at Nathan with anger and closed the door.
“So what do you want?” Asked the guy, without looking at her. He was grabbing the faucet with both hands, as if he was trying to control his bad temper.
“I hope you checked the perimeter as my step-ass would say. Now, let’s talk bidness.”
“I got nothing for you” Growled Nathan.
“Wrong. You got hella cash.” Chloe replied.
She was so… angry. So different from the Chloe Max just had left behind. The selfless Chloe, the kind Chloe, she didn’t exist in that reality. Max thought for a moment if she was the responsible of that change at some point.
“That’s my family, not me”
“Oh boo hoo, poor little rich kid” Chloe mocked him.
“Damn it, Chloe.”
“I know you been pumpin’ drugs n’ shit to the kids around here…” She approached Nathan and leaned on him, giving him a cold glare. “I bet your respectable family would help me if I went to them. Man, I can see the headlines now.”
“Leave them out of this, bitch”
“Almost there… Do it, Max… You know you can. Do it!”
“I can tell everybody Nathan Prescott is a punk-ass who begs like a little girl and talks to himself…”
Max saw from behind the stall how Nathan finally lost control and pushed Chloe against the wall, grabbing the gun he had hidden in his jacket. She saw for a second the terrified expression in Chloe’s face when she realized that everything wasn’t as in control as she thought.
“Now or never, stop second guessing yourself! Time to be an everyday hero again, Max. Don’t screw this up.”
“You don’t know who the fuck I am or who you’re messing around with!”
“Where’d you get that? What are you doing? Come on, put that thing down!”
“Don’t EVER tell me what to do. I’m so sick of people trying to control me!”
Finally, Max stepped out from her hiding spot. Her right hand clutched in a fist to avoid the temptation of using her power, her heart beating so fast in her chest that it seemed about to jump off it. With all the courage she managed to cope, she raised her voice loud enough to be heard over Nathan’s.
Everything was so fast that Max didn’t see it. One second she was looking straight at Nathan’s wild eyes and Chloe’s panicked expression. The next, she felt like a hammer hit her right in the middle of her chest, making a deafening sound. She looked down at her chest and saw in awe at the dark blood stain growing bigger and bigger on her shirt.
Her knees hit the floor and her body fall back to the ground, while a river of blood escaped through her lips. She raised her hand to rewind, all in vain. She could feel her life slipping away from her as fast as her blood covered the white bathroom floor.
“MAX?! OH MY GOD!”
Chloe pushed Nathan away with her shoulder and left herself fall next to Max and held her in her arms, ignoring the blood pouring out of her chest. Nathan left his gun fall to the ground and left the bathroom as fast as he could, leaving them alone.
“Max?! Holy shit! Holy shit, what have you done?!”
“Shhh, don’t speak!” She said, pressing her right hand in Max holed chest.”HELP! SOMEONE!”
“Chloe… list… listen to me” Max touched Chloe’s face with her hand, leaving a spot of blood in her cheek. “My… my journal.”
Max looked at her backpack and moved her head, wishing her friend would understand.
“Shh! Don’t say anything. You’ll be alright, I promise. Please, please.”
Tears were running wildly down Chloe’s face.
“Take my… journal and… read it. It’ll ex.. explain everything.”
“Shut up, Max!” Chloe said, her eyes full of tears and her voice broken. “For fuck’s sake! SOMEONE HELP ME!”
“I’m… I’m sorry.” Max could feel the tears slipping away from her eyes, rolling down her bloody face.”I’m sorry I… left… I’m sorry I … didn’t call…”
“It’s okay, Max! You hella saved my life!” Her tears fell right in Max’s face, making her blink.”You’ll be okay. I promise, Max”
“Read my… Journal” Max insisted, feeling how her eyes became heavy and the pain in her chest slowly started to fade away. She did what she could. She just hoped it was enough. “I… I love… I love you.”
“Don’t! Don’t you dare say that and leave me, Caulfield! Don’t you fucking dare!”
But Max couldn’t hear her anymore. She just closed her eyes and everything went black as the sound of fast steps closed in.