Max made a promise to herself so very long ago. Again and Always. Even if it took an eternity.
“Wowsers. Fucking. Worth it.”
“Language, Max! Honestly, why did we even have a swear jar?”
“Uhuh,” she murmured, but Chloe wasn’t sure she heard her. She couldn’t blame her.
Kate looked beautiful. To believe that such a wholesome, kind soul could turn anyone sinful at a glance… Chloe shook her head. “She looks good.”
“Yuh-huh,” her wife nodded in agreement, before she hooked her arm around her shoulders. “You know you’re my Butterfly. But forgive me. This sight, I’m cherishing for the rest of my life.”
Once again, Chloe couldn’t blame her. “I didn’t even know she owned a little black dress.”
“Would you believe that she asked me to buy it for her in Paris?” Victoria stood beside them, arms crossed as she smiled at her girlfriend across the yard. “She wanted to buy one for me, but I said only if I could get her one. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I bought a blue one right before our trip.”
Fuck, Chloe thought. Now she was picturing Victoria in it. “I wonder which one of you are gonna end up tearing it first trying to get it off.”
“It’ll probably end in a tie,” Max sighed. “Chloe, we’re going shopping.”
“It doesn’t look too… trashy, does it?” Kate wondered genuinely, approaching them from the steps outside their dorm.
“You’re beautiful,” Victoria said sincerely, and the timid girl beamed at the news, and twirled in her heels for her partner.
“You think you know a girl when you’ve seen her in her Sunday Best,” Chloe clapped. “Turns out Saturday Night is the best time to check her out.”
“Which reminds me,” Victoria noted clinically, “Let’s try not to go too hardcore out there, girls. Kate and I have service to attend tomorrow.”
Kate blinked at the news. “R-really?”
Under the moonlight, her natural blush shone even through the makeup. “Let’s not make a big deal out of this, babe. You knew I was going to come with you eventually.”
Kate snapped her arms around her girlfriend, and almost ruined said makeup with her kisses. “Oh, thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-I-love-you-so-much-thank-you…”
“Exact opposite of making a big deal out of it,” Victoria tried to get out, a huge smile on her face. “I love you, too. Ready to show Vortex the new premiere couple of Arcadia Bay?”
“Please,” Chloe bragged, “We paved the way for you millennials. Talk to us when you get a bill passed.”
“We’re pretty awesome,” Max agreed. “But you two are a great couple. Close second place, for sure.”
The two stuck out their tongues in response. The four girls laughed as they walked along to Chloe’s truck.
“Hey, Max? Can we talk? Did I ever, um… upset you, or something?”
Chloe was once again graced with the sight of Max ‘Doe-Eyes’ Pricefield as she was caught. “Sorry?”
(“Answer me, Bitch! Don’t you dare walk away from me! I own you! I own this school!”)
“Well, I mean, you’ve never been outright rude to me. It’s just, you know, it’s hard to gauge you. I feel like you’re so nice to everyone else. You’re nice to me, but don’t take this the wrong way; I feel like you’re being nice to me out of obligation.”
(“Now fuck off, Dyke! If I wanted to, I could blow all this shit up! Don’t FUCK with me!”)
Right in one. “I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable, Nathan.” And the award for irony goes to… “I don’t think I meant to. You just remind me of someone I knew a long time ago. He looked a lot like you. Bad memories.”
(“Rachel in the Dark Room. Rachel in the Dark Room. Rachel in the Dark Room…”)
“I hope we’re different people,” he smiled shyly, rubbing the back of his head. “I’m sorry for whatever that guy did. My sister would jump down my throat if she thought I pissed you off. It’s a little late to try to be your friend, but I don’t want to be on your bad side, and especially not know the reason why. I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
(“…I’m… sorry. I didn’t want to hurt Kate… or Rachel or … I-I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”)
“You couldn’t be further apart from that guy I knew. He was a monster. I guess some people are made that way. You seem well-tamed enough. No hard feelings, alright?”
When the young man nodded, with a genuine smile, Max felt another chapter of her life close. It would be a while longer before she accepted drinks from the boy she reported so long ago – there was a reason they only served bottled drinks at the party, and confiscated any that were abandoned for longer than ten seconds – but she felt that this was a good first step.
“I’d make a ‘hell freezing over’ joke,” Chloe whispered into her ear as he walked away, her arms wrapped around her front, “but I don’t want to jinx it, now that I know it’s possible.”
She rolled her eyes with a smile. “Come on. I’m having a really good time right now. Everything is as it’s supposed to be. Allyssa didn’t even get hit by anything yet. Warren found a best friend in Stella, and I can actually sit back and enjoy myself – I think.”
“There’s a couch downstairs, in the… you know.”
Max latched herself onto Chloe’s crossed arms. “Full circle, isn’t it? I haven’t stepped down there in over a decade.”
“I never saw ‘that place’. But this room is completely different, I promise. I’ll be with you this time. Nothing will hurt you, Max.”
Wordlessly, the younger brunette walked forward, leaving her wife’s embrace, connecting her hand to Chloe’s as they went towards the stairs.
At least it wasn’t a hatch anymore. No giant metal vault door, either.
The downstairs looked entirely different. Just seeing Kate dancing, enjoying herself, back to back with Victoria, her smile just as big, sent a chill down her spine.
She was the only person who could see how wrong all of this was, how fucked up this entire situation was. Only she could ever know the horrors of this place in her generation, and while Mark Jefferson was long gone from this world, only the memory of him kept him alive.
And, as she had discovered time and time again, she never forgot.
Her wife pulled her into a hug, and quickly covered it up by stepping to the side, swaying back and forth. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she whispered, cooing in her ear, and it worked far faster than it should’ve, considering the panic she was just in. “I’m here for you, Max. I’m never leaving you. You did so much without me. I’ll never let anything hurt you. Just let me be your everyday hero. Your guardian fucking angel. I swear, Max… I swear…”
The tears were blinked away before she could even shed them. “I believe you. Thank you.”
“This is maybe the second time I’ve seen you cry, Max. You’re always the one comforting me. Some part of me is kinda looking forward to returning the favor.”
“I hope you don’t get many chances. But I’ll love you all the more for it.”
“C’mon, let’s go back to the dorm. We’re fucking married, why are we still clubbing?”
“We organized this party, Chloe.”
“Yeah, fucking Vortex Club. I gotta tell you, it lost its luster right about now.”
“A little bit. But I needed to see this for myself.” She looked up and examined the expansive party room, filled with lively people and a happy atmosphere. “The Dark Room is no more.”
“And never will be. Come on. I wanna spend a quiet night at home with my wife. Some Blade Runner? We haven’t watched that in a while.”
She smiled at her girl. In some ways, she hadn’t changed a bit. “You know what? You mind if we stay here a little longer? We give this up to the next generation after this night – let’s enjoy this while we have it.”
“So you really have been considering moving?”
“Actually, no.” She held her hand tighter. “I had no idea how to bring this up, but Arcadia has been so good to us. A lifetime ago, we talked about nothing more than getting out of town. You’d give anything to get out of here – including your life. But now…”
“You saved the town. Then, now, and forever. This isn’t the Arcadia Bay you remember.”
“I’m standing in what was once the worst place in this entire town. I managed to somehow turn it into a destination spot.”
“So… we’re staying?”
“We can go anywhere, Chloe. Anywhere we want. But it’s not a bad idea to have a residence here.”
Her wife chuckled. “Now I know why mom kept the diner. Now I know why we still work there. So many good choices – we stick to what we’re used to.”
“So that’s why you haven’t divorced me and taken half.”
“I like to keep up appearances; appearing like I know what the fuck I’m doing. As it turns out, you’re my jackpot, babe.”
It was so corny, she couldn’t help but laugh a melodious laugh. And the two danced in the Dark Room, with more smiles and laughter, and maybe a few photos, and Max had yet another set of memories to be replaced – possibly the last bad memories to linger in her mind of Arcadia Bay.
“So here’s a totally unfair question – who was better? Me or Blue?”
“Huh. That was less dramatic than I thought.”
“It shouldn’t be. I’ve come to terms with it. That Chloe was the one I fell in love with. But you are the Chloe she’s always wanted to be. You are the idea that she fell in love with. We both had our flaws, and we were perfect for each other. We have, since, evolved together again, and now we’re prefect for each other. Therefore, you are the better Chloe. Sound fair?”
“I guess. You really think she’d be that proud of what I am?”
“Depends. How proud are you?”
“Depends. How proud are you of me?”
“Then pretty damn proud.”
“See? Not as dramatic as you’d think. I worked hard to become someone that you’d be proud of. I think it’s working out pretty well.”
“Agreed.” She sighed, and sunk in a little lower. “Any future with a private hot tub in our bedroom works out pretty well.”
Max rolled her eyes as she hugged her bikini-clad wife from behind. “Don’t stay in there too long. I don’t need my trophy wife to become a prune.”
“I’m waiting for you˜˜!” She sing-songed, leaning back into the embrace. “This trophy needs a little polishing.” She tilted her head back. “Don’t you want to know how long I can hold my breath underwater, now?”
She tilted her head. “Are you sure the money didn’t get to your head?”
“I don’t think so; more getting used to being an actual adult. But this is a really nice house; it’s a huge step for us, having our own home. And never having to go through legal bullshit, or money problems, makes the temptation strong to miss a day or two at Joyce’s Diner.”
“I… may have worked out a deal with Joyce… our little brothers and sisters in the program could use a little push in the right direction, huh? It’s a nice real-word experience for them, and she loves her little employees.” Unexpectedly, she leapfrogged over her lover, evoking a shriek of laughter, and splashed into the heated water, the enlarged tub being more than accommodating for her frame to dip through and touch the floor, before doubling back and surfacing between Chloe’s spread knees. She rested her elbows on her lover’s thighs. “Part of me wants to blow our money on an actual pirate ship.”
Chloe, trying to control her laughter, gently pushed her wife away to sink into the small pool. “We’ve always been pretty good with our imaginations. So, maybe a yacht.”
“Personal cruise ship.”
“Yacht,” Chloe stressed, kissing her lover to quiet any protests. “Don’t make me the responsible one. I’ll have to get Eliza to confiscate it.”
“Fine. Yacht it is. I’m glad we could compromise and go frugal.”
Chloe peeled the soaked clothes off her beloved, tossing them carelessly to the other side. “This is officially our home, tomorrow. Blackwell is taking in a new class for the fall season, and we’re moved out of the Prescott dorms. How does it feel to have a place you and I can call home?”
“No difference,” Max told her honestly. “We could be living in your truck right now, and I’d be happy with that. Honestly, I wanted us to live easier lives, but we can handle anything together. Just in case.” She smiled sadly. “I really doubted there was a chance I could have stopped you from getting in a car accident one day, or me, or William or Joyce. So I wanted to be prepared. It was a backup plan for a lot of things, if I needed it. If anything happened to you, I would be right there with you. And we would’ve had all the money in the world to get us fixed. If anything were to happen to me, you’d at least be covered by Eliza. If anything happened to William this time around, we could’ve run away together, or whatever you wanted. We could do anything with what we have. I’ve done so much, and we’ve done so much, and it all worked out. But if anything… unexpected happened, there’s a choice. There’s always a choice.”
She stared deep into her eyes. “I tried to be prepared for everything, except, well, you. I promised myself, a long time ago, that’s the only way I’ll use my power. Nothing else. And if everything starts breaking apart again, we can get out and bring anyone – everyone we want. And if it follows… if it follows, it was all for nothing. But, like I said, there’s always a choice. Always.”
“You’d really do it all again for me? Rewrite the past again?”
“I have to. Always, Chloe.”
“You’ve done enough, Max. It’s over for you. Now, it’s about us. I don’t want you replacing these memories for anything else. Don’t you dare forget about me!”
“Butterfly, you know I wouldn’t – ”
“I’m sure you won’t actively try. But you would. I don’t know how many times you might be able to jump back and try to make things right, but all I know is that you’ve done too much for all of this to be for nothing. If fate would be so fucking heartless as to take me away from you, again, I don’t want you to go through that heartbreak again, and again. It’d be just an infinite loop of pain. It might never end, and you knew that when it started – when the OG Chloe figured it out. But you’ve done all you can. You can’t do this for all eternity.”
“I… I can’t promise you that, Chloe. I can’t lose you. I don’t regret a moment of everything I’ve done for us. The last mistake I thought I ever made, was leaving her to make this jump. It almost felt like sacrificing her. She and I – you and I – could have gone away and never looked back. I really didn’t know if you even could love me like I loved you in this world, and that terrified me. But you do love me back, and it was all worth it again. And I am so glad I got to know and care for so many other people again, especially Kate and Victoria, and Dana, and Taylor and Courtney and even Nathan… but this isn’t me preparing for doomsday, I’m talking about life! If anything happens to you, I’ll – ”
“Risk everyone’s happiness – even your own – for me. Sound familiar?”
“Goddammit, Chloe! What makes you think that I could ever be happy without you?”
“You’d never be happy this way – trying to chase me away from the grave for an eternity. I won’t let you do that to yourself. How many times did she… how many times have I died with you right with me? How many times did you have to save my doomed ass?”
“Enough times to learn from my mistakes.” Her voice was firm – far from her inner turmoil. “We’ve done this before, Chloe. You just don’t remember it. You might be willing to accept your fate; I’m not.”
“Exactly.” Her hands clasped her best friend’s. “I want you to grow old, Max. And I want to be with you to see it. Do crazy shit, see crazy things, follow our dreams; that’s ideal, right? Every Chloe you meet will probably say the same thing – I wanna stay with you as long as I can. No matter how many years I have, I want you by my fucking side the whole way. I don’t want to lose this. I can’t let you do that to me, or yourself. All of this – everything. It doesn’t make sense to lose it all and start fresh. Don’t do that to us. I’ll never forget you. Could you say the same about me?”
“Yes – but if this doesn’t work, we could be better.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You just told me you’re proud of me, Max. Now you’re telling me there’s room for improvement?” She squeezed Max’s jaw between her fingers, firmly – with desperation. “The Chloe you knew before couldn’t give a shit about her own happiness, because she didn’t think she was good enough to deserve it. She thought she was the scum of society, and she was meant to die. This is what I wanted to be – the best I can be. The absolute best, not because I’m worried for my life every day, but because I want you to be proud of me, and for the past year and a half, I’m fucking scared of my wife erasing everything I’ve worked for and starting with a clean slate. Maxine Pricefield, for once, let me be selfish! Let me have a goddamn vote! If I ever die, or some twisted shit happens to me, you need to let – me – go. I will alwayslove you, Max. But ten lives from now, I don’t want to see a girl desperate to protect me from the world, her own sanity hanging on the thread that is my cursed life.” She sighed, a very tired sigh, and her fingers slipped from her best friend’s mouth down to her side. “But I won’t remember a goddamn thing. So who cares, right?”
“No, you wouldn’t.” It was a sad admission, but it was true. “I could never lie to you again, Chloe. Never again. I don’t want to have to repeat my life, and I’m not looking for the end of the world. You are my world. And I can’t bear the thought of losing you.”
Full tears fell from her cheeks. That hadn’t happened since she said goodbye to the alternate Chloe, over a decade ago. “Never, Chloe. I will never use those powers for something like that again. I haven’t used them since I made the jump. Not once. I remember how much I couldn’t not use it. I know the power it holds, and I know what would happen if I did it even one time, to go back a few seconds. I once told myself, that once I did this, it would be gone. I’ll never know if it’s completely gone, and I will never find out. I promise.”
She clung onto her wife, holding her best friend with everything she had. “I promise.”
Chloe sniffed, returning the hug. “I’m sorry, Max. I just… I don’t want to be a failed experiment.”
“You’re perfect, Butterfly. Perfect.”
“And if I die?”
“You won’t. You. Won’t. I can’t believe anything else.”
“But we have to live our lives the way we want to. No bubble – no moat surrounding the castle. We go balls to the wall, having fun. Max and Chloe versus the World.”
Honestly – she wouldn’t have had it any other way. The danger, supposedly had passed. No matter what inevitability they were headed towards, they could only watch each other’s backs, while having the adventures they’d always wanted. “Guns blazing,” Max finally agreed. “And no cheating. I promise.”
Chloe rolled her slightly red eyes. “We’re pirates. That doesn’t work.”
“Pirates with honor.”
“Honor with each other.”
“Aye-aye, my captain.”
“We are so fucking goofy.”
“Max, I think we just got into our first ever fight. I’m pretty sure this ended in the only way it could’ve ever ended.” She went neck-deep into the water, and her loving wife followed. “Come on. Let’s prune together. I think we both deserved it, my trophy wife.”
They waded towards the foam-like seat, and Max rested her knees on either side of Chloe’s thighs, staring into her eyes. “I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I’ve got to ask.”
“Let me guess; role reversal?” Her wife nodded, her eyes downcast. “I’d do what I can. But if nothing works, I’ve got no choice but to burn the fucking world to the ground. You’re far more level-headed than me. But if I saw you die, even once or maybe twice, You’d see someone far more insane the third time around; someone far scarier than you’d ever like to know, and that’s all you could ever remember me as. Just being apart from you in another life made me a junkie. I don’t think either of us wants to know how I might deal with you dying.”
“I… I never thought of it like that.”
“Only you could hold a power like that, Max. Only you could keep your sanity. I may not ever be ready to ready to die in this life, but I want you to be proud of the both of us, and proud of the lives we lived so far. You love me so much, and I hella believe that.” Her teary smile made her wife snort. “So stay with me. Let’s ride this life out. You and me. Forever. Always.”
“Forever and always,” she whispered, cupping her partner’s cheek. “God, you’re like a perfect painting. I don’t even think I can start over.”
“We’re both perfect. And if anything happens, we’re just too awesome for this world.”
Max had said it before – A long time ago, she was perfect for Chloe. Here, her destiny was tied to a completely different woman; her wife, and her number one priority. It began and ended with Chloe Price, and in this case, Pricefield.
If she was ‘destined’ to suffer through an infinite loop, she may as well settle for perfection, in the here and now.
She leaned forward and kissed her lover with everything she had, and Chloe returned with fervor. Her hands wandered, stroking the soft, pale skin, her slim fingers exploring the toned body of her equally hands-y wife. With practiced ease, she removed Chloe’s top, and discarded them in the general direction of her wet clothes.
Honestly, she may have seen her flawless body many times, but she would never be less than awed. What she loved most was the absence of tattoos, and piercings, and while they were beautiful on her, once upon a time, they had no right to mar her body like Max could.
A flickering lick against her best friend’s nipple, and Chloe shivered, even in the heated water.
She lifted the girl’s remarkably light body and scooted her onto the edge of the large tub, and – thankfully – the pruning had only reached her long digits, which were currently exploring Max’s every curve – curves that, thanks to a far healthier and balanced lifestyle, had improved somewhat, having grown a few inches (and it was an entirely random thought that should not have entered her mind at the moment, but she really needed to take a photo of their height chart in their old room), her breasts having grown a full cup size. And her ass…
God, Chloe loved her ass. That was once again proven true as Chloe grabbed a handful of her rump and pulled apart her cheeks. Max breathed sharply, her wet backside exposed to the cool air, but couldn’t react further, her lips suckling at the slippery skin of her blue-streaked, strawberry-blonde partner.
She was so glad not to include chlorine in the water.
Chloe was content to sit quietly, allowing her wife to explore her to her heart’s content. She panted lightly, the room getting a bit too hot as she was groped, her full breasts being squeezed and molested so perversely and so dominantly. “Oh, M-Max… they’re not going anywhere, y-ya know…”
She relaxed for a moment, pulling her lips away from a curious red spot on her lover’s neck she was almost determined to make more prevalent, to lock onto her lover’s blue eyes. “That wasn’t a complaint.”
“P-Please don’t fucking stop.”
She leaned forward and landed a chaste kiss to her shaking, quivering lips. “Every single room is sound proof, Butterfly, and all of it’s to ourselves. If you don’t want me to stop, don’t keep it to yourself.”
“Fuck me, Max! Please! OH!”
Chloe had almost risen off the edge of the tub entirely, feeling two fingers roughly inserted into her. “I said; scream for me, Chloe.”
“Oh, GOD, Max! Fuck me! Ah, FUCK!”
Max knew she was a good bad influence on her love. Hell, those swear jar tips were a result of Max’s more controlled swearing, whereas Chloe didn’t care who heard. She was very vocal when she was riled up.
And the both of them absolutely loved it when Max used it to her advantage. With another plunge of her index and middle fingers, Chloe let out another shriek-like gasp, followed by a drawn out moan as she withdrew.
Slamming her digits back into her tight passage, she stood up from her knees, back to standing in the water, towering over her other half. “Don’t even need toys,” she bragged, watching her lover’s body writhe and pant against her own, her bright blue eyes wild with desire. “Not even the hot tub can hide how wet you are.”
At this point, coherent speech was near impossible; only whimpering sounds and staggering breaths could escape the strawberry-blonde’s kissable lips.
And kiss her she did. Chloe rode herself on Max’s swiftly thrusting fingers, her arms looping around her beloved’s neck as knuckles brushed her swollen clit.
Twisting her fingers to use her thumb on the sensitive nub, the brunette maneuvered herself onto her wife’s left thigh, and rode herself forward with her thrusts, grinding her slick heat against her paramour’s leg. She broke the kiss to moan, and as much as Chloe loved the sound, she managed to find her lips again.
Faster than she wanted, she moaned her orgasm into Max’s mouth, kicking into the pool as her body spasmed, and usually Max would have been pissed that she missed such a wonderful sight, but she had the rest of their lives to watch as much as she liked.
The best part of having a willing model as a wife was that she wasn’t afraid of whatever the camera captured.
“Oh, shit…” Chloe panted, wincing as Max smoothly withdrew from her soaked, velvet center. “Wowsers. Thank you for that.”
Max leaned into her lover’s embrace. “Thank you. I needed to do that.”
“Oh, feel fucking free to take charge like that anytime.”
“Just doing my wifely duties.”
With Max’s help, she was able to slide back into the tub. “Best. Wife. Ever. I love you.”
Max slipped her fingers into her mouth, savoring the taste. Only after the digits left her mouth, did she reply. “I know.”
“Fuck, you’re so hot right now.” She pecked her Doe’s lips. “Round Two?”
“Maybe later. Right now, I just wanna cuddle and prune.”
“That sounds pretty good right now. Bonus, it’s a convenient metaphor for growing old together.”
Perhaps it was the blissful atmosphere she was in, or she had completely disassociated herself with the connection between her other life, but she didn’t recognize and appreciate the irony of Chloe begging her to never use her powers again. “One perfect play through. No cheats.”
“Like I said, my Doe; our greatest adventure yet.”