A/N: Both the story and first chapter titles are a reference to a Terminator quote: “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
I want to say straight up that I like the endings for Life is Strange. Both of them. They have flaws, but I still like them, and the final Polarized episode. That being said, I still feel that alternate takes on the finale are interesting, and I understand people’s desire for more endings and more choices. So, for those who wanted that, you may like this fic because it will have no less than four endings. Don’t want to get into too much here for fear of spoilers. So, enjoy.
Life is Strange and all related characters belong to Dontnod. Any music or quotes are the property of their respective creators; I make no profit off of this work.
The following line: “And I travel backwards, through time and space and – ” is from the song ‘King Park’ by La Dispute.
Like with Life is Strange itself, I’ll be peppering in songs in various ways. Some will be from the game, while others will just be songs that I think fit in, or are songs the characters would probably enjoy. Expect references to all kinds of geeky shit as well.
If you like, please comment.
SACRIFICE CHLOE – SACRIFICE ARCADIA BAY
Everything is cold and wet, but Chloe’s mouth is warm, and she cries harder because she’ll never get to feel her warmth again.
The wind howls in her ears – or is it the screams of the people she’s killing?
“And Max Caulfield? Don’t you forget about me.”
“I’m with you to the end, Max.”
She is curled on the bathroom floor, biting into her arm to keep from making a sound. She can’t breathe. She can’t hear anything, just curls up tighter.
Chloe is gone.
Chloe is BLEEDING on the floor behind her and she could stop it
c a n ‘ t
She can’t stop looking out the window. She did this to them.
And she knows how they died.
There wasn’t anyone to help Alyssa, or Evan, or the fisherman or the trucker.
There wasn’t anyone to stop the diner from blowing up.
What about Kate, alone in her hospital room?
Or David or Victoria or Frank or Taylor or Brooke or –
But there’s no one. She killed them.
a l l
NONE OF THE ABOVE
“I – I can’t make this choice!”
“No, Max. You’re the only one who can.”
The wind whipped back her hair, her clothes, every gust an icy slap. She could feel the buzz of electricity in the air, running along her skin, making the hairs on her arms stand on end.
“Max.” Chloe’s hands grasped her own. “It’s time.”
Max shook her head, closing her eyes. “That’s it, then?” She looked up at Chloe again, laughing bitterly. “Those are my only options? Let youdie, or – or let everyone else die?” She swept her arm out in the direction of the town, and the tornado heading for it. “After – after everything? All the timelines and – and fighting to get back to you – all for this?”
“Max – “ Chloe stepped closer, but Max shook her head again.
“No.” Max gripped her fingers. “No. I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that.”
“Max, you have to.” Chloe held her hands just as tightly, shaking a little, her voice breaking. “We have to save everyone, and – “
“No.” Max stepped back, still holding Chloe’s hands. “I’m not going to choose between you or – or the town! There has to be another way!”
Chloe looked out at the tornado, and then back at her, slowly shaking her head. “I don’t think there is, Max.”
For a long moment Max just stared at her. Lightning flashed in the sky, and the rumble of thunder felt like it shook the ground, but all the other noise in the world seemed to quiet, almost like she’d frozen time again. Chloe was shivering, eyes red-rimmed from crying, and Max never ever wanted to forget the look on her face.
She stood on her toes, and kissed Chloe quickly. Chloe didn’t even have time to open her mouth and return the kiss; Max let go of her hands and stepped back, turning toward the edge of the cliff.
Chloe called out for her, grabbed her shoulder, but Max raised her hand, and rewound.
She didn’t know where she was going, when she was going, but she had to go somewhere, had to try something.
Her vision blurred; pain shot through her, and blood dripped from her nose, but she kept her hand up. She reached forward, fingers straining, pulling time back in on itself. She closed her eyes as her body vibrated, her hold on time stretching in her grasp, like a rubber band ready to snap, but still she pulled.
Max heard the voices first, like static in the background, growing louder and louder the longer and harder she pulled. The voices were all around her – no, behind her? Everywhere? Soft and loud and all at once, in her mind and in her ear as the world dissolved around her.
Rachel in the dark room
RACHEL IN THE DARK ROOM
Chloe chloe CHLOE
God pUT ME ON THIS ROOF
Kiss me now
I LOVED HER S O M U C H
It doesn’t matter now
Don’t kill us, Max
HOW CAN SHE BE DEAD
WHAT KIND OF WORLD DOES THIS
Don’t look so sad.
I love you, Max
WHO DOES THIS
I’m never leaving you
The voices faded into the background as colors and shapes formed around her, building a world like in her nightmare. The voices were still there, like white noise on the edges of her mind, but her new surroundings were more distracting. It was the main hallway in Blackwell, with all the lockers, but someone had painted over all the walls, with just two words, over and over: NO FATE NO FATE NO FATE.
Max blinked, trying to focus on the words as the voices grew louder and louder again in her mind and her vision started to blur. Sometimes the words overlapped, spilling into each other, seemingly never-ending, except –
You’re becoming like this force of nature
YOU KILLED CHLOE
– deserves so much more than die in a storm in a FUCKING DINER
I’m so glad you’re my partner in crime
Could frame ANY OF YOU in a d a r k c o r n e r
As long as you’re my partner in time
GET THAT GUN AWAY FROM ME, PSYCHO
Max staggered, catching herself on the wall. She took a few shaky steps forward, her palm gliding along the wall. She frowned, and then cocked her head to the side. The voices were louder coming through the door to Mr. Jefferson’s classroom, and she noticed, suddenly, looking up, that the door didn’t have NO FATE written on it.
She opened the door, and the world quieted. The voices still lingered, but all she could focus on was the scene before her.
No one took notice of her standing like a ghost at the front of the room. Jefferson sat – facing the female students, Max realized with a lurch in her stomach – giving that goddamn lecture again. What was the point of this? A reminder of her failures?
I can’t keep going through all this! Max thought in frustration, blinking back tears. She shook her head, stepping closer to the other her. There had to be something, anything that she could do. There had to be a reason she was here.
As she watched, she saw the other Max nod off, seemingly only for a few seconds before jerking awake with a gasp. The other her looked around, panting a little, and then seemed to relax a bit. She took her selfie, only for Mr. Jefferson to ask her about the Daguerreian Process.
Max thought the answer automatically, but the other her tried to get out of answering it.
Wait…Max narrowed her eyes, watching her past-self cringe as Victoria insulted her. Is this…is this the first time? Is this the first time I had the vision? Before she’d saved Chloe, before she’d rewound for the first time? Now that she thought about it, she hadn’t watched herself break her camera and rewind, either.
The other Max tried to walk out of the classroom, only for Jefferson to call her over, and again the other her didn’t give better answers, or get away from Jefferson’s lecture faster to save Chloe.
Max kept watching, desperation making her heart beat faster. What did this mean? Did it mean anything? What was the point of all this? But still, she watched as her past self walked slowly to the bathroom, watched as she took the butterfly photo, and watched as Chloe entered.
Max couldn’t take her eyes off of Chloe, or this memory of her. How couldn’t she have known who it was, that first time? How could she not have noticed all of Chloe’s gestures, her voice, the way she glared – all the habits and expressions that Max knew by heart. Everything about her just screamed ‘Chloe’, no matter what color her hair was or what clothes she was wearing.
Max stood, kind of in the middle of it all. Her past self was behind her, hidden from Nathan’s sight. Nathan and Chloe were arguing, getting more and more aggressive, and then Nathan drew the gun and backed Chloe up against the wall.
Max knew it was coming, knew it was going to happen, but she still flinched when the gun fired. I promise, I won’t let that happen to you Chloe. I won’t.
She heard her own voice shout, and felt time pull back around her like she was doing it herself. Which…well, she sort of was, but that part was pretty confusing and Max didn’t have time (hardy har, Max) to think about it.
She was back in the classroom again, and it took her a minute to realize she was watching the same scene. She made the same mistakes, didn’t change her answers, ducked her head as Victoria insulted her, stammered and looked at Jefferson with admiration. The other her again walked cluelessly toward the bathroom, again reached out to Chloe too late, and then the scene started over once more, depositing Max at the front of the classroom.
Max shook her head. “I don’t understand.” Then, louder: “I don’t know what this means!”
Of course, nothing answered her, and all Max could do was watch again.
“Come on,” she muttered to herself. She had to believe she was watching these things for a reason. What does it mean? Why do I have to watch this?
She tried to pay close attention to every detail, to see if she missed something, but she didn’t notice anything. She just kept getting answers wrong, and Max couldn’t pick up or interact with anything – she could only keep watching.
I don’t understand. Is this Hell? Am I just going to watch this over and over and over again? Max shook her head, putting it in her hands. She didn’t get it! All that happened here was that she saw the vision of the storm, went to the bathroom, and saved Chloe! That didn’t –
– Wait. Max froze. Her thoughts felt like sand trickling through an hourglass. She’d gotten the vision first. Before she discovered her power, she’d seen a vision of the storm. Before she could rewind time, and before she’d saved Chloe.
That meant…something. Didn’t it?
The other her walked through the door again, but this time when Max followed her through to the other side, they went somewhere else entirely.
Max felt like she’d missed a step going down the stairs; she stared in horror as the door swung shut behind her, and she was left in the Dark Room once again.
Breathe, Max. She told herself. This isn’t real. You aren’t in the Dark Room. Everything is okay. Just breathe, and figure out what you’re supposed to see here – and how to get back to save Chloe.
Nodding to herself, Max took in a few deep breaths, clenching her hands together to keep them from shaking. She couldn’t see anything through the plastic partition – would she be re-living Jefferson taking photos of her? Nausea rolled in her gut at the thought, and she doubled over for a second, pushing past the sick feelings to walk forward and see what awaited her.
Max pushed aside the plastic, and stepped further inside.
For a second, she couldn’t see anyone at all, and a burst of relief swept through her. Then she moved further in, and she spotted the figure lying on the ground, a bright source of color against the white backdrop.
“Chloe,” Max breathed in horror, and it was her, it was her and she was in the Dark Room, and for several seconds Max couldn’t breathe at all.Its not real, she told herself. This isn’t real. Chloe isn’t here.
Max kept repeating that to herself, over and over in her mind as she walked close to the Chloe on the ground.
She was dead. Blood was still oozing out of the wound in her stomach, and bloomed out from around her head like some kind of hellish halo. She was staring straight up at the ceiling, her arms spread out to her sides, fingers half curled up.
Max couldn’t move, couldn’t tear her eyes away from Chloe, and she had to say it out loud now: “This isn’t real. This – ” She took a shuddering breath. “This isn’t real.”
She made herself step backward, still unable to look away, when Chloe’s lips moved.
“The storm is coming,” she said. Her expression didn’t change. She didn’t move her arms or legs, did’t turn to look at Max. Her voice was soft, almost a whisper, but when she spoke again it was louder. “The storm is coming,” she repeated.
Max swallowed, trying to make her voice work, to do something, but when she blinked Chloe was gone, and another girl was in her place.
It took Max a second to register what she was seeing, and then she recoiled, stepping back again, bile rising in her throat.
It was Kate. Her body was broken. Sharp bones stuck out of her legs, and her neck was bent too far to the side. Rivulets of blood ran down from her head, her neck, her arms, her legs. It had soaked through her white shirt, staining the material. Her hair was sticky with it, and blood dripped down from the corner of her mouth, too. She was also staring up at the ceiling, and did not move.
Max waited. She closed her eyes, shuddering as the smell of blood seemed to grow stronger, and when she opened her eyes blood was bubbling up from Kate’s lips.
Her voice was even softer than Chloe’s, and Max couldn’t hear her at first. But she repeated her words, more loudly: “They are waiting for it. They’re waiting for it. Waiting.” Her voice was thick, trembling, like she was crying. “They’re waiting for it.”
Max blinked back the tears filling her eyes, and Kate was gone.
Rachel Amber was in her place. Chloe and Kate’s bodies had been bloody, all the red so shocking against all the white, but there was no blood on Rachel. The sight was no less horrifying.
There was dirt on her. Around her legs and bare feet – wet dirt, more like mud, gritty and clinging to her pale skin and clothes. Leaves were in her hair, which was long and tangled and flared out around her. Max could see faint signs of bruises on her arms, wrists rubbed raw from being bound. There was no color in her face; it was as if it had bled out of her, leaving her ghostly, almost glowing. She wasn’t looking at the ceiling, and instead to the side, not-quite at Max. Even her eyes were paler, cold.
Max knew what would happen, but with Rachel almost looking at her, watching her lips move while her eyes stared sightlessly sent a chill down Max’s spine.
“Waiting,” Rachel said. “Waiting. Waiting in the Dark Room.” Slowly, ever-so-slowly, Rachel’s gaze moved to land directly on Max. “The Dark Room,” she said again. White light – like a camera flash – flared suddenly in the room. When it faded, Rachel was gone too.
Now Victoria was lying on the cold floor. Her hands were bound behind her, her face pressed against the ground, knees bent awkwardly out to the side. She let out a sound that could have been a sigh or a laugh, or a quiet sob, and said: “You have to choose.”
This time Max felt herself responding, without even meaning to. “Ch- choose what? I – I can’t choose between Chloe or the town, I – I can’t! There has to be more I can do!”
Victoria’s lips curled in a smile. “You have to choose,” she said again, and with a flash she was gone as well.
This time another Max was in her place. She wasn’t lying on the floor, but sitting in a chair. There was a puncture wound in her neck, a trickle of blood rolling down her collarbone. Her head was limp, hanging to the side, and her eyes were closed. Her hands and feet were still bound.
“What do you want?” Max asked, watching for any sign of her other self moving or speaking. “What are you trying to tell me?”
The other her moved. Its shoulder twitched, and the head rolled up as the back straightened, and the other her looked right at Max. The other her’s eyes weren’t dead or cold; they were burning, and her voice was clear and loud as she said: “There is no fate but what we make.”
There was another flash of bright white light, so bright that Max had to close her eyes. When she opened them, the other her was nowhere to be seen, and this time no dead girls took her place.
And no more dead girls will, Max vowed. She took a step back, and when nothing else happened took another, and another. She turned and hurried out the heavy door.
Max looked around wildly as the door swung shut behind her, squinting in the sudden brightness. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she could see that she was in her dorm room, and the light – it was the morning sun streaming through the windows.
Like in the Dark Room, there was another her sitting in a chair, but this Max was alive and in her pajamas, bent over the desk.
It took Max a moment to realize that the other her wasn’t moving. Unlike the bodies she’d seen in the Dark Room, this version of herself looked completely still. In fact, everything around her did. Was she in a moment of frozen time?
Now what does this mean? Max thought as she looked around, trying to see something that stuck out to her. Her room seemed the same, for the most part. Alice wasn’t in her cage in the corner, so this was before Kate tried to jump. And there was the past version of herself sitting at a desk, putting a photo in her photo journal, and –
Max’s head turned back around so fast it probably should have hurt, but she didn’t care. She walked toward the photo journal on the desk, not even daring to hope.
But there, the page open on the desk…it was the selfie she’d taken the morning after she’d saved Chloe the first time, the morning of the day Kate would try to kill herself. October 8th.
Can it be possible? Max wondered. Can I go back through a photo in my mind? In my memories? And what can I change if I do?
Max didn’t know. She didn’t know what any of this meant, or what all of this was supposed to tell her. She didn’t know what she could do by going back through this photo. But she had to try. She leaned forward, and focused on it.
Every second it took it was harder to breathe. Her heart felt like it had stopped beating. It had to work. It had to work. She had to do something…
And then she heard it. Noise. Just the faintest thing: the regular morning noise of the girl’s dormitory, and the birds chirping outside her window, and the photo seemed to get brighter, sharper, as the world around her faded and –
– it all slid together, and she went back.
and I traveled backwards
Kate jumped, Max’s hands grasping empty air as everyone below screamed
Nathan’s gun fired, and Chloe fell, and Max’s hand didn’t reach out to stop it
Chloe’s eyes fluttered closed as the morphine swept through her
Lightning crackled in the sky
YOU ARE ALL THAT MATTERS TO ME
NO FATE NO FATE NO FATE
“The storm – ”
NO NO NO HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED
“No matter – ”
MAX HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO CHLOE
“The Dark Room – ”
SHE LOST THEM BOTH, SHE LOST EVERYTHING
Her own voice, in and out, like a badly tuned radio
Her own voice telling her to l i s t e n
“No fate – ”
she had to go back AGAIN AND AGAIN AND A G A I N
“The storm and The Dark Room – ”
chloe is dead/chloe is alive/chloe is dying
“More – ”
on the beach/in the diner/in the junkyard/in the dark room/on the floor
SHE KILLED THEM ALL
she could see the storm behind her in the rearview mirror
C H L O E
time was frozen around her, she had to get them, had to save them all
SHE’S DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU
“ – find evidence – ”
AND I’VE COME TO MAKE YOU PAY
SHE CAN’T STOP THE STORM
“ – need more time.”
Everything rushrushrushed at her from everywhere, it was EVERYTHING,
she was dead/alive/going back again,
kate was with her in chloe’s room/kate hit the ground/kate took her hand
her voice telling her, telling her, showing her, storm/dark room/storm
chloe was falling/chloe was sleeping/chloe was kissing her/
chloe’s body jerked as the shot tore through her and –
Sunspots danced in her vision, and the light grew so bright she couldn’t see
Awareness came back to her slowly.
Max shifted, trying to blink her eyes open, but the light hurt too much. She kept trying, and each attempt was a little less painful, though the more aware she became the more she noticed her pounding head.
“Ugh,” Max groaned, shakily lifting her head and peering around the room, her eyes still half-closed. She could hear her phone buzzing on the desk, but she couldn’t see it anywhere. It took her a moment to realize that it was because she – or the old her, or the current her falling into the old her’s body, man she was never going to fully understand this – had fallen off of the chair. She was on her back, her legs splayed awkwardly; one knee was still on the chair, hooked over the seat, while the other leg was on the floor.
Max blinked a few more times, her thoughts starting to come more quickly now. She got to her feet, a little clumsily, one hand holding herself up on the back of the chair as she looked around the room.
What is this? She thought, her mouth opening. All the other times she’d traveled back through a photo, she’d always been limited by the edges of it. She couldn’t leave the room, couldn’t stay for longer than that moment in time. But here…there was no border. It was like she really wasback, back to nearly the beginning.
Max curled her toes in the carpet, and walked to the door. She opened it, peering outside. She couldn’t see any signs of a border out there either, let alone splotches of red and white and shapes of burned film like in her nightmare.
How…Max thought, closing the door, looking back around her room again. How could I do this? But if this is real – if this is real, I have another chance to change things. To save Chloe. She’d needed more time, and she’d gotten it.
“No fate,” she said, and then she actually laughed out loud as she said the rest. “No fate but what we make.” She shook her head. Is my mind trying to give me a message with a Terminator quote?
God, Caulfield, For a second Max could hear Chloe in her head, could hear her laughing fondly. You are such a geek.
Max shook her head, and took a deep breath. She walked over to her desk and picked up her phone, reading Chloe’s text, her thumb tracing over it.
Again, she could hear Chloe’s voice, from another time, as if she were standing right next to her. You go, Super Max!
I’ll do it Chloe, she vowed silently. I’ll find a way.