What do you do?”. Chloe whined, Max pulling the taller girl in closer. That way I wouldn’t-“, “Or you could just stop smoking pot…,” Max said, the inflection getting a smirk out of Chloe, “Yeah, I know. All but throwing her school things into the locker, Max slammed the door with all her might and stormed out of the hall without even noticing until she was outside that Rachel had been following her. Chillax, even. No sign of whatever crisis her future self had suffered being resolved. You’ve always been by her side for everything, as she has for you. ‘My poor, precious Baby’. Go into it, and you’ll find a mirror in the little sink alcove. I’m not that far off, though, Max thought with a smirk as she glanced over her shoulder towards the bedroom while listening to her mother go on, Punk commune nestled in a two-story in Arcadia Bay’s residential area. She was angry and bitter over leaving when Chloe had needed her most, was tired of watching Chloe get hurt time and again while they were hours apart. Chloe started to look as though she might get up from the chair, Max figuring to hug her, but the photographer put a hand on her girlfriend’s shoulder and encouraged her to click on the photo itself. “Earth to Max. “Yeah, but if I get it now I can go to college a lot sooner,” Chloe had replied to the teasing, smiling when Mama Amber nodded, “What I want to do, what I really want to do, is pursue both an art degree and one in chemistry. Yeah, we’ll call you later. This was a lot more difficult for Max, her hand-eye coordination a little sluggish in terms of this exercise. Sitting on the couch, a slight tremble in her entire body, Max anxiously snatched the cigarette and took a drag of it. Max thought back to the note in her desk, back to that fateful day when it compelled her to call Chloe. Letting Chloe in once she was dressed, Max smiled in contrast to Chloe’s momentary scowl before they brushed their teeth together and got ready for the last part of the trip. With Chloe’s hand wrapped around her own as they scanned the enormous selection, Max got lost in the wonder of such a wealth of literature. Ugh, can I just end the call now, please? Max groaned, rolling her eyes as Chloe led the way towards the kitchen with that devilish grin still on her face. Max felt herself stiffen, actually taken back to the day before she had gone to Chloe’s when her parents had told her that she would need to tell her childhood best friend that they were moving to Seattle. But I worded that terribly, and some of it was out of bitterness. Cringing a little under the power of her boss’s knowing smugness, Max booked a hasty exit with Chloe somewhat dragged behind her. The junkyard was pitch black, the only way she had noticed where they even were was the visible sight of wrecked cars and discarded trash from the truck’s headlights as they pulled into what Max had just barely been able to make out as “American Rust”. Love you, too. Slipping on the clothes she had worn before their beach and lighthouse adventure, Max tried to turn her head in a way that might let her see the bump. Rest your head, and let me just hold you.”. Taking her own shoes off, Max pulled her jean shorts off and tossed the jacket Chloe had given her months ago onto the opposite bed. “Yeah, and I know you. I like the photos, the lanterns – definitely a Max Caulfield original.”, “It’s… There’s something unsettling about this room, Chloe. Rachel is my friend, too. Crossing the narrow path that gave way to where the bench was, Max was almost within reach when First Max looked over her shoulder and smiled at her with a gentleness that took Max by surprise. She knew a little about his problems, Chloe had mentioned hearing Nathan’s dad talk to him in a way that reminded her of David, but Max had tried to avoid Nathan after he had written “Feminazi” on her locker with permanent marker. For Max, it was a boost for her weak self-esteem and confidence as well as the nurturing of her photography skills. I’m just fucking with you. “I dunno, Chloe. Still, though, her girlfriend’s depression and stress issues concerned Max a great deal. See for yourself.”. It had been months since Chloe had treated Max to an overnight trip to Portland, but the repercussions of their stay were still unfolding. Bingo, Caulfield, Max thought, mentally pumping her fist in victory, Your makeup game is good, so at least you know that now. Mom still balked when I asked to be allowed to drive the old town car once I actually turned 16, though, Max thought with a smirk as she glanced over to see her girlfriend driving, I need wheels, though, and Dad gets that. I think I might see what’s on TV.”. The car tipping into a ditch, Max tried vainly to pull back out onto the road a few times, the older town car’s engine gave everything as Max slammed the accelerator pedal onto the floor. God, Rachel, that’s terrible. “Into The Wild and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, huh?” Chloe asked, her amusement evident as she took a drink of her coffee. Maybe there’s a way of-. God, what do I even say?”, “Tell them the truth, Max. I’m sorry it took me so long.”, “It’s okay,” Chloe said, Max knowing that was a lie, “I’ve been busy. Smirking at how Chloe had written “MAX” inside the collar, Max pulled Chloe in for a hug before she took the hoodie she was sporting off and put the jacket on. What are we going to do?”, “Uh…,” Max started, remembering distinctly that leaving Arcadia Bay was her girlfriend’s idea, “Well, um, you could call Rachel and see if her grandma will let us stay with her in the meantime? Glancing down at her journal, Max sighed and began to collect everything when she spied the folded note just barely poking out of the notebook. Her classes averages the highest test scores among all sections. That was sweet!”. But can you afford such an exquisite beverage?” Max replied, cocking an eyebrow before laughing when Chloe gave her a good-natured shove. Not knowing when or how Chloe had been able to slip that on from the time they were at the dinner table to where they presently sat by the Christmas tree, Max leaned over and kissed her girlfriend’s hand when Chloe showed off the gold band. Max Caulfield fancies herself a Rockstar.”. The radio came on soon thereafter, music for them to dance to before they had to get back on the road. “Goddamn, Caulfield! Do you like it?”, “Well, yeah. “Creepy,” Chloe replied, though she did smile, “I used the shampoo you left at the apartment. We won’t be gone long, okay?” Chloe replied, handing Max her peacoat while she grabbed her green winter coat. The drive was long, with several stops, before the girls arrived in Los Angeles. Hearing the other girls laughing still in the bedroom, Max rolled her eyes as she called her mother. When her father gave her a hug, the ease of their closeness relaxed her a little. “I came here because I wanted to celebrate your birthday with you, not be a fucking accessory to you getting some kind of motherfucking fix, Chloe Elizabeth Price,” Max snarled, Chloe’s eyes widening as realization hit, “This is not okay.”, “I am not done talking, Price!” Max spat, shoving Chloe with both hands. Not that hard to figure out. Looking down, Max realized that in spite of the blackness she was perfectly visible. Walking right up to the taller boy, a few inches shorter than him, Chloe jabbed a finger into his chest and told him in no uncertain terms to back off. It’s hella early anyway, so nobody will be up for a little bit.”, “Sure…I guess…,” Max replied, standing up while Rachel did the same and brushed her knees off, “I know a trail near here that’s not too long. “You get so quiet sometimes. Byyyyyeee…!”, Max kicked Chloe gently into the tent, her booted foot planted onto the seat of her girlfriend’s shorts before she gave a slight push. Here she is, doing a double-shift of opening and closing the store so we can have the weekend together on top of Bay City courses online… She’s staying here in the Bay until I graduate so we can head off to a future together without being parted again…and I’m just a wuss, Max thought, wanting to punch her own shoulder. You still have that video, don’t you?”, “Uh, yeah. Pick, Chloe.”, “You should get first dibs, since it is your-“, “Another weekend down, huh?” Chloe asked as they entered the house to no signs of life. Those were my tattoos.”, “O-Oh…?” Max stammered, averting her eyes as the artist’s fingertips brushed the part of her chest exposed from the neckline of her shirt, “Um…”, “You ever thought about getting a chest piece?”. Hella suspicious, Caulfield.”, “She’s probably on her third glass of whatever, so it’s fine,” Max said, the angst in her voice getting a look of concern from Chloe, “She’s been drinking like crazy the past month. “No Slender Max, please,” her punk girlfriend lamented, looking from between her fingers at Max, “Change of mood – let’s all fish out whatever we might have gotten Max for her birthday!”, “Aww, you guys didn’t have to-!” Max started to say, cut off by the glare Steph, Rachel, and Chloe all gave her. I… I’m pathetic, it’s like I’m perpetually stuck at being 5 years old.”, “The pink was a result of Chloe the first time, a-and I like it so I just kept it. “I know better than to interrupt anything like that, and you ought to just behave.”, “Rachel behave?” Max asked, unzipping the door to look over at her friends. I know she’s trying, Max. Max’s chuckle at that comment was stifle and dry, the brunette letting loose with a loud groan before she flopped back onto the bed. The two-bedroom bungalow was one of six all situated near one another. Rachel: Eh, I finished moving into the dorm, Rachel: Hanging out with Steph in her room. I…I… What if she hates me? “Max Caulfield, fugitive on the run…”, “Yeah…,” Max replied, biting her lip before she looked up from her hands to Chloe when they sat up, “I… I had to see you. I’ll… I’ll get tall someday!” Max replied, snorting at her own retort. “Gimme your phone, Chloe. Boxes stacked on top of one another, bedding dumped on the twin-size mattress set, shelves pushed against the far wall, and her futon opposite her bed. Max watched Rachel put a hand to her mouth to try and hide that she was laughing with a chunk of roasted red pepper in her mouth while Steph munched on a chip. She figured that Chloe realized she had lost her temper, but when the taller girl reached out to take her hand Max rebuffed her and headed off for the restroom. Stop selling yourself short.”, “Yeah, yeah,” Max teased, her hands now tracing Chloe’s jawline, “Shh, okay? “Are you okay?” Max asked, the most obvious question also being the most straightforward. Both girls looked out their respective windows the entire ride back, Chloe exiting the vehicle the moment it was parked. The silence between them lingering, Chloe turned back around and proceeded to clean up the computer’s hard drive and install software updates while Max just laid down on the bed. Sliding off the chair, Max straightened her clothes up a little and turned around to give the blue-haired cosmetics genius a hug before she sauntered over to a blushing Chloe. You’d do anything for her, give anything. ….God, Rachel…”, “What?” Max asked, her turn to be inquisitive as she leaned in when Chloe averted her eyes. I’m… I don’t know what I am, but even if I were interested in girls I just… I don’t like you like that. They had dropped Chloe off yesterday, the entire ride to Arcadia Bay one of silence. What a jerk, Max thought, wiping the sweat from her brow with a forearm as she put a hand on her hip to observe her handiwork, Not telling anyone because of embarrassment – that I could get. Making their way through the clusters of people with little to no resistance, Max always felt better about public spaces when Chloe was around. “No funny stuff, kiddos,” Ryan said, looking at them through the rearview mirror, “We’ll still be within driving distance of just turning around and heading home.”. Licking the remaining chocolate off Chloe’s fingers, Max did not realize how what she was doing made the rest of their little group drop their jaws as the action was laden with innuendo and suggestion. “It has been a long time since you’ve been here,” Chloe said, looking off in the direction Max was, “When was that, your previous sojurn to yonder Two Whales?”, “…Oh, it was when you and I scrounged up enough loose change from our houses that your mom accepted it as payment for a basket of hush puppies!” Max said, eyes lighting up at the memory. You know how much I love gossip.”, “Pffft, well, I thought Dad was going to stop me. Max knew that the endless string of bullshit that Chloe seemed to get pummeled with non-stop was taking a greater toll on her girlfriend; by association, the same could be said in part for Max as well. The night was abuzz with lights outside, the stars diminished from the throngs of orange, blue, and white that smothered the vast cityscape. Not getting detention or suspended for any of the altercations, Max had become a little hot-headed over the bullying and teasing. Wowser. Love you so goddamn much that finally being back in the Bay means-“, “I’ve made you happy, haven’t I?” Chloe asked, the tragedy in her voice leaving Max feel somewhat ashamed. You…You put that back…!”, “Oh hell no,” Chloe replied, ruffling Max’s hair as she did a little dance in her seat, “This is my skeleton key to victor-y, Caulfield. “Mom…,” Max said in a flat tone, “I’m not a kid anymore.”, “You’ll always be my baby, Max,” Vanessa said, chuckling lightly when Max groaned even louder, “You’ll be my baby even when you’re an adult.”. Biting her lip, the room never making her feel at ease in nearly all the time she had spent there by herself, Max cradled her elbow again and walked over. Shoulders slumping, Max put a hand to her forehead and rubbed at a temple. Looking over her shoulder, eyes bloodshot and rimmed from crying, Max felt awash with relief when Rachel and Chloe just silently held her. Jackpot, Max thought, pressing herself again when she caught sight of a person’s silhouette through the darkness. Nearly vomiting, the pink-haired girl looked at the keypad with a scrutinizing look and noticed that some of they keys were a little more worn than others. I won’t let that happen. Angling it up so that she would get a selfie with the statue in the background. How’d the remainder of your evening go?”, “Well, I was an anxious wreck with a side of internal sass,” Max replied, taking a sip of the drink she had concocted, “This morning was nearly dealt a fatal blow, though.”, “Oh? Max was pushing the speed limit, going 70mph in a 65mph zone. They walked around the observation deck for a while, Max and Chloe discussing how they had ditched Max’s father the first time they came up. You’re only on the cusp of turning 17, Max. More “hanging out” to do. Also, I’m totally gonna tease you about that now. Everything felt white-hot and the sound of her pounding heart deafened her for a moment. 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