Major Choices and Outcomes have been woven into the story. Just know that Max made all the right choices in the end. And even then, those actions still had consequences…
It was when her lips were pressed against her best friend’s, her everything, did she realize, and maybe for the first time – a photo was a moment captured in time. But dreams could create an entirely new reality, maybe even an infinite moment.
And right then – at that very second, if she didn’t capture this dream, imprint it in her mind forever, then the nightmares would rule her world until she died.
Her heart pounded angrily, and she was sure it had nothing to do with the storm. Still, she couldn’t even feel Chloe’s lips on her own, she couldn’t register the raindrops on her, and the cyclone whipping ahead of them was just a distant sound.
This was a moment in time she wanted to remember. This was what she had wanted. Just her, and Chloe. As she had wanted for almost a week now. Something that she had maybe yearned for her whole life.
And what she’ll never get to have again.
And while it was their choice, it wasn’t a fair one. That’s what this was, right? Goodbye? They couldn’t say the words – she could never be so direct, and even Chloe was stumbling over her words.
Max knew she was worth something, to Chloe at least. Only she could make the blue-haired girl speechless. She gently rubbed her fingertips across the soaking girl’s neck, desperate for friction, desperate to feel again.
She needed to feel Chloe’s skin again, before she killed her. Again.
She honestly couldn’t tell her tears apart from the rain, and she wasn’t about to parse it out. It was the end of the world, and there was nothing else that mattered but her and her girl. Her sidekick. Her pirate partner in crime.
And Fate literally wanted to take her away.
Fate couldn’t be that cruel; could it?
Did she care about what Fate, or Destiny, wanted for her?
Chloe opened her eyes and broke the kiss. She looked carefully at her best friend. “Max?”
“It just can’t end like this, Chloe. It can’t. I won’t let it.”
“I…” she looked out at the chaotic whirlwind that was approaching their small ocean side town. “I don’t think we have much of a choice.”
“You just said that I’m the only one who can make that choice.” Her eyes were intense, and they never looked so dangerous. “I want to choose. Everything else, I feel like it’s been out of my hands. I needed to help those people. I needed to help Kate, I had to help Alyssa. I couldn’t even watch a fucking bluebird hit your window! I’ve been helping so many people. I’ve saved lives, Chloe…”
“Including mine,” she whispered, her eyes shining, and it wasn’t from the rain. “And I love you, Max. I would’ve never gotten the chance to say that if you didn’t save me. And that’s all I needed.”
“And all I need,” Max leaned forward, wrapping her arms around the punk teen, “is to keep hearing you say that. Forever.”
Chloe’s hands tightened around the slightly shorter girl’s waist. “I’ll always love you, Max. Whatever you choose.”
The photo was now crumpled in her hand, and it became even further mangled at her friend’s words. “Do you believe in destiny, Chloe?”
“Until it stopped working in our favor? Yeah.”
“Do you believe… do you think I can change it?”
“I think you have to, Max. It’s literally you and me versus Destiny.” She sniffed. “And if we let all those people die, I don’t think that’s a point for us.”
“Would you? If this was my life on the line?”
Chloe considered, for a brief moment, feigning ignorance to question, if only to stall. But she knew what the answer would be. “You have so much to be grateful for, Max. I have my mom, and even my step… my step dad in my corner, but all I have left is… is you. You are all I really, truly have. I could live without them. I’m beyond caring. But you’d be tearing yourself apart into insanity if all those lives were sacrificed for you. You would have so much to live for. So many people in your life. And even then, you’d be begging me to make the right choice.”
Max closed her eyes. The ‘right’ choice. “No. I’d miss Warren. I’d miss Kate. A part of me would even miss Victoria Chase. But even in that reality, I’d go to hell and back for you. I can’t save everyone.” She glanced behind her, and turned to face the desolated town, in the middle of the storm. “And I tried. But if I had to choose…if I’m being made to choose. I’m choosing me.”
She could hear the ripping sounds the storm made. “You hear that?” She separated, her hands lingering on Chloe’s hips, and turned fully towards the apocalypse. “This is what you wanted! A choice! A time to speak up for myself! To think about me for once! To make me save Kate’s life! To watch you play cruel games with Alyssa! To make me watch, again, and again, those stupid fucking lessons he gave us! Making me relive his premonitions of putting me in his Dark goddamn Room! That wasn’t me! That was all you! That was your choice!” Her words were fierce, even fiercer as she saw cars flying into the water from a distance. “And what?! What did I do to deserve it?! You give me the power to play God, and I didn’t have a choice from the beginning, did I? Well, now I do. Me. I want to be happy! And if the world has to burn to the ground because I want to have one fucking selfless moment…”
Her voice broke at the end. She couldn’t finish. She just couldn’t.
“Then I choose to be happy,” she finally whispered, looking back at the girl she couldn’t sacrifice. The girl that she would never lose again. “If the whole point of all this was to do nothing… then that’s what I’ll do.”
Chloe watched the soaking, balled up photo fall to the wet ground with a resigned stare. After a few seconds, she filled Max’s empty hand with her own, and gave it a gentle squeeze.
And the two best friends watched as Arcadia Bay swept into the storm.
A moment captured in time. She didn’t need a photo for that.
And that’s when the thought came to her.