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A Future Without You

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This is it. 

It's finally time to go back. Back to that day. 

Max lifts up the photo she took in Mr. Jefferson's class the fateful day everything started. 

...

The flash on my old camera startles me. I know that he's going to call on me in a few minutes, but before that happens I need to catch something. As soon as the second paper ball is thrown, I'm up in a flash catching it before it reaches Kate. Kate Marsh. I almost forgot what she looked like during this time. People stare as they take in the fact that I just caught the piece of paper. It wasn't what was written on the paper that mattered, it was the act. As this transpired within seconds, a voice cut through the silence of the classroom.

"I see that Max doesn't like people throwing things in my classroom as much as I do." He pauses and directs his attention at me.

"Thank you, Max. Now, would you please..." I hold up a hand to cut him off.

"I have a question before I sit down." He motions me to speak.

"What was it like?" I say quietly.

"What was what like?" Clearly taken aback by my question. 

"Seeing innocence fade away into the gray abyss?" I ask genuinely.

"What?"

"I asked you, what was it like seeing someone's innocence fade away? It's a simple question that you should know very well." My voice starts hardening as I keep the same volume.

"I don't know what you are talking about, do you feel unwell?" He starts to get antsy. Perfect.

"Oh? Playing like you don't know what I'm talking about? Well..." I pause. "...that's disappointing. I thought that this would go smoother, but you sure like your games don't you?"

"Max what's gotten into you?" As he says this I see Nathan in my the corner of my eye. 

"Ah, just the person I wanted to see!" I quickly face Nathan and pull my chair in front of him and sit. 

"You know that you aren't the one pulling the strings, right?" I ask him. He just stares at me. 

"He's the one pulling and you just go along with it because "Daddy would be disappointed", am I right?" He looks at me like I grew another head, but in his eyes I see my words click. 

"That's what I thought. You know, if you didn't follow Daddy dearest, we might have been friends and I could have gotten you the right help. Too late for that now." I stand back up and turn to face Jefferson.

"Back to you. Are you going to answer, or should I answer for you?" Silence.

"Fine. I'll answer. From my perspective. It's like seeing every place or thing as having their own color. Something comes along and saps all the color away from you and you can't ever get it back. It leaves you in this dark world of grays and blacks. It almost drives you insane. But, you eventually learn about something and that starts bringing colors back; starting with red." I pause and see he's really fidgeting now. He knows exactly what I'm talking about. 

"Now, what to do with you? I know that you know exactly what I'm talking about. You've seen it. On all of those girls' faces. Rachel Amber. Kate, too. Hell, you just saw it in mine." He stands up straighter as the class's hushed whispers get louder. He starts come towards me, but I'm prepared.

He goes to grab my neck, since he's seeing red at this point. His movements are slow and all emotion. I grab his dominate hand and in a quick move twist it behind his back. Slamming him into the desk with a satisfied crunch, I look to Nathan. 

"Nathan, I need you to give me that gun. Now." He pales and freezes. I become impatient as Jeffershit keeps trying to break my hold.

"Nathan. Gun. Now." He seems to take himself out if his trance and hurriedly tosses the gun to me. Jeffershit freezes as I release the safety and cock the gun.

"Everyone please don't panic. I would love it if you would sit quietly as deal with this mother fucking piece of shit." The class quiets as the curses flow from my mouth with ease.

Standing him up, I walk him to the front of the room and push him away from me, while taking my sweatshirt off to use as a sliencer. Keeping the gun trained on him, I point at the desk.

"You will write your confession." I say void of emotion. He looks at me like I didn't have the balls.

"You don't have the stomach to." He sneers with a face that shocks the students. I take aim and fire. 

He flinches and see that am deadly serious. I look at the remains of his camera and his phone since they were sitting with in a few inches of each other. 

"Write." He cowers a bit and then begins writing. 

"Make sure that you tell them about how you involved Nathan on Sean Prescott's behalf." He looks at me with a glare, just as a phone goes off. Chloe.

"Nathan, do not answer that, or look at that. It'll just cause you trouble." I look to him earnestly. He seems to take my advice and shrink into his seat.

I hear the pencil stop and I aim the gun at Jeffershit's head. 

"Done are we? Did you sign it?" He shakes his head and quickly signs it. 

"Good." I come up behind him and use the gun to knock him out. I see a roll of duct tape and use it to bind his hands and feet. I take my phone out and text Chloe. 

I know this is out of the blue, but don't come to the school. I mean it. There's stuff that's going down that you need to stay out of.

With the sending of the ominous text, I take the bullets out of the gun and set it by Jeffershit. I turn to the rest of the class.

"I need you to listen to me, okay? You are now all witnesses. What you saw, just now never happened. Jefferson started acting strange in class. He took out a gun and started waving it around. He took my sweatshirt to use to silence the gun and accidentally fired it. You were all too terrified of your teacher to do anything, so I took a stand and manged to take the gun and knock him unconscious. We then duct taped him and took the bullets out of the gun. Any questions?" Half way through my speech, I took my sweatshirt and wiped everything of my finger prints while making sure that Jeffershit's finger prints were on it.  

I didn't hear any objections from anyone. I start to take out my phone, when a couple chairs scrape on the floor.

"Max, what did you do?" Kate asks in a shaky tone.

"I got justice for all the lives he ruined. He ruined yours too. He was going to ruin mine and Victoria's if we let him. So now, he's going to pay for the rest of his life in prison." I say with distaste. I take my cell phone out and scroll through my contacts.

"What are you doing?" Victoria asks.

"Calling security." I say flatly. I finish my conversation which included me faking fear and shock as David realized the situation. Clicking the end button, I shove the phone in my pocket.

Things start to blur in and out of focus. I start seeing little red drips from my nose and take notice that my nose is bleeding, but it's not just my nose this time. I'm bleeding from my eyes too. It blurs everything into a red hue as I see in slow motion the ones actually concerned for me rush at me as the room tilts. Before my vision goes black I see David burst through the door and a blue head behind him.

... 

Chapter Text

Alright, so maybe that didn't go as planned. I was hoping to just knock him out after class and give off an anonymous tip, but once I saw him. I just couldn't take it. I have the power to make his life as miserable as he made mine and everyone else's. What do you mean? God Dammit. Seriously, you're sending me back? After all that. Alright fine. I'll let that part play out like it's supposed to. But don't expect me to just stand there while she gets shot. 

...

I awake with a start. I was sent back. God dammit. Apparently, I can't change something like that. Stupid rules and regulations of being a time manipulator. I take a look around and I'm back at Chloe's grave. Sitting by it actually, wearing her jacket and looking at the photo of the butterfly and bucket I took in the bathroom before she was shot. I had a different photo last time, but it looks like they  really don'y want me to mess with any thing before this point in time. I guess I'll just have to bust Jeffershit a different way. But, I guess this means reuniting with Chloe faster then. I give a sigh and start staring at the photo. 

...

Flash. 

Alright. Now, I just need to wait. I stand up leaning against the stall. Bang. 

"It's cool, Nathan...Don't stress... You're okay, bro. Just count to three." He starts rambling more to himself as he goes through the motions before Chloe comes in with a bang. 

"I hope you checked the perimeter, as my step-ass would say..." They argue for a few more minutes, that's when I hear the click.

Their argument escalates like normal that's when I hear Chloe start to talk to Nathan.  

"Nathan! Stop!" He jumps and turns as his trigger finger goes off. 

Instead of Chloe this time, it'll be me. I guess, I just needed to get shot no big deal. I curse the council as they totally wanted it to go this way. Less of a butterfly effect, I'm assuming. I grab my stomach as I bleed out. 

"MAX?! Max Caufield?" Chloe rushes over and tries to apply pressure on the wound.

"Hey, Chloe." I manage to get out. 

"Shit. Okay. You are going to be okay. I'll get help." Still applying pressure to my wound, she starts yelling for help. I see Nathan in a fetal position, the gun sitting away from him. I hear running coming from outside the bathroom. The edges of my vision are starting to dim. Damn, I'm going to pass out soon.

"Chloe, I'm sorry." I croak. She stops her yelling and looks at me, the anger held there replaced with concern.

"Max, it's okay. We can worry about me and my feelings later. Just stay with me alright?" I start fading a bit quicker.

"I'm sorry..." Everything fades to black once again as David steps through the door. 

...

That fucking hurt. Yes, I know. It was necessary. Is it possible for you guys to include me on this shit. I mean it is my life we are talking about. Yes, I realize I've said that if I could, I would trade places with Chloe any day. That's still true. I just feel out of the loop that's all. Fine. But, don't expect any thing else from me. I'm done taking orders and following the rules. I don't plan on doing anything. Nathan is giving his confession and Jeffershit is getting arrested. So, no I don't plan on using them, unless it's an emergency. You guys trained me, and all I wanted to do is save everyone, including Chloe from my shit. I did just that. So, don't go pulling shit on me. If you do, you will be making an enemy out of me and I know for a fact that you don't want that. 

 

Chapter Text

GOD DAMMIT! Why can't you just leave me alone? You told me that it would be fine. Why? I finally got to contact you, after you have me repeat the same thing. Five times. You sent me back in time to the same spot after someone got shot in each of the different times. Three of those times, I was shot. One was Chloe, the other was Nathan. That's the one that got your attention. What? You thought that having me see each and every outcome to this situation would, what? Help me understand that no matter what I do it will either end in mine or Chloe's death? You gave me the equipment to save her. Why have me go through that and then tell me it is helpless? OH, so its a part of my education on time travel? FUCK YOUR EDUCATION! FUCK YOU AND YOUR RULES! I quit. You can't take away my powers, at least not until something happens in that bathroom. I will go and do what I have to. IF you interfere one more time I will raise hell. I will make sure that this organization never happens. I will make sure you won't exist if you even think about using your equipment on me again. You know what? There, now you can't do anything, but watch. Watch as I follow your rules still. Watch as I save her. Despite everything, I'm still thanking you. I wouldn't have gotten this far if you hadn't revealed yourselves to me. You might know the source of my powers, but that doesn't mean you can hang it over my head like leverage. You have nothing now. None of this will be here when I fix the timeline. It will be in my control and if you have any problems with it, take it up with your past leader who gave me the Council. Yes, now if you excuse... FUCK YOU. You will report to me from now on, or I will erase you from time. I'm the only one with the access to the equipment now. I am the leader of the Council. I declare this timeline off limits. You will stop messing with it, the storm that happens is because of your equipment, not my powers. You ignorant asshole. As my second and final act as the leader, I disband the Council and leave the only person I trust in charge of maintaining the balance of the timelines. Yes, her. She has been the only one who has been on my side the whole time. Council member Amber, you are now in charge of the maintaining the timelines. If anyone including any version of me, tries to manipulate their timelines you are to guide them to the right choice using this. Yes. You'll do fine. Thank you. I will, Rachel. 

...

Fuck, that was a hassle. I'm back again at Chloe's grave for the sixth time. I guess one good thing out of this is that I no longer have to answer to the Council. As the only one of the time manipulators who had actual powers, they wanted me under their thumb. Rachel was the only one who knew that I wouldn't be very happy with that. Yes, that Rachel. She might have been dead, but now she exists out of time. She might never be able to come back to Chloe alive, but she took the job knowing that. She was the first Rachel. Well, kind of like how I'm the original Max. I remember everything from all the time jumps. She's the same way. She sacrificed herself, so Chloe could survive. There were worse things happening in her timeline. She found equipment and then saved Chloe, but couldn't do anything about the storm. She knew about me from her timeline, so she left clues and then cue me and my timeline. The one were she's dead and the storm comes. I go back, but get stopped by these people called the Time Council. They take me in after I let Chloe die. I was so eager to fix it, so eager to get rid of the guilt of letting her die without telling her. Rachel introduced herself after I joined and told me that she was the one who was helping me. She was the doe. After training in this place that exists outside of time, training my powers and pushing them to my limits. The taught me self-defense as well as somethings I'm not proud of. They sent me on missions and used me as their own personal hit-man for awhile. Rachel was the only one who actually cared, since she looked after me and recommend me for the job. She saw what it was doing to me and tried to get them to stop. They made a compromise and told me to go "fix" my timeline. Well, you know the rest. I look up and see that it's twilight. It's a bit later than last time. I wonder if she would forgive me. I've had all this time to go back and I still haven't. I can't forgive myself, even if she does. I run a hand through my hair. I should probably go. I stuff her jacket into my bag and her necklace into my pocket. I stare at the picture and wait for the bathroom to sink back in.

...

 The scene starts off like normal. Nathan talking to himself and then Chloe coming into the bathroom to blackmail him. They argue. I brace for the next events. The click and the shout. 

"NATHAN! STOP!" I yell as loudly as I can.

I sound desperate as he swings and the gun goes off. I don't feel much as the adrenaline pumping in my veins makes sure I see everything. The bullet firing from the gun and it's path for me. The thing I didn't expect was it to it me in the chest. Of all the times I was shot, it was the stomach or somewhere with less important things. It's near my heart, but it's not in a place that would kill me right away. Time starts going faster as the bullet hits me. I know it's still in my chest and didn't go through me. I can't decide if it's a good thing or bad. I cough a bit of blood and see Chloe rush over after saying something. Everything is a bit muffled, like I'm under water. My hearing goes back to normal, as my vision sharpens. I look up and see Chloe. I smile and hold my hand to her face. Her face is something I want to memorize. The sadness in her eyes is overwhelming and makes me want to fight to get rid of it. I want to say something... my mouth isn't working. I hear the pounding footsteps just outside the door. I'm laying in her lap and helpless, the blood loss starting to get to me. The necklace. It's still in my pocket. I manage to get my arm to work with a lot of effort and with dead fingers. I grip the necklace to my chest in a silent promise to fight. To live. For her. To stay. She looks a little shocked and confused as she immediately recognizes what's in my hand. The pressure on my chest increases as I realize that she's using her jacket and suspenders to try to stop the bleeding. I give a smaller smile as I start to get weaker. In the moments that it took for me to realize this, the door is busted open and David with a few other people come in like a swat team. They see take in the scene before them and spring into action. With the amount of blood loss now, I can't really hear anything besides the steadily decrease of my heart beat. Chloe is trying to say something to me and I can just barely read her lips. 

Stay. Please.

I'm trying. Things are starting to go in and out and I feel myself being lifted off the ground and onto something a bit softer than the ground. Everything fades and I recognize that I'm outside of time now.

"Rach." I smile as I see her come into view.

"Everything is exactly as it should be. You'll have to go back soon, ya know." She says in a cheery tone. She looks the same as her poster. She's even wearing the same clothes. 

"I know. Do you want me to..." She shakes her head. She's knows that I won't use it unless it's absolutely necessary. 

"Max, I know that you feel guilty for putting me here. Don't. It's the best thing you could have done for me. I can see that you were right. The Council was trying to manipulate you to do unspeakable things. I was apart of the group that made you do those things. I can't expect you to forgive me for something like that easily, we put you though so much. So, consider this as me making things up to you. It's not like I had a time line to go back to. But, just remember that I'll still be here. You can come talk to me, if you need. You just need to use that nifty power of yours to talk. Although, I would advise not using it unless absolutely necessary. Things will go bad if you use it like you used to." I turn to her, surprised she knew all of that.

"I can see all of the timelines now. Remember?" Right.

"Alright. I wasn't planning on using it unless it was an emergency anyways." I look up and the edges of the place Rach has created is receding. 

"It's time for me to go." I say looking at her with understanding now. I know why she was so eager to take the job. 

"Before you go, thanks." She says with a wave. 

"Wel-"

I'm sucked back into the darkness of my mind.

...

The first thing I notice when I open my eyes is the mass of blue in my lap. Chloe. I give a small smile and wince a bit as I feel pain radiate through my body. It's almost instantaneously soothed by the IV in my arm. My room is covered in balloons and flowers. I see a few cards here and there from what I can see without moving too much. Despite just waking up, I'm exhausted. I feel Chloe's slow breathing as it starts to lull me back to sleep.

...