Chapter title is taken from the comic book and movie “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.
Thanks so much to everyone that has been reading and commenting and bookmarking this story. It really truly means a lot. I hope I don’t disappoint.
Everything flickered before her – through her – like film on a reel. She was everywhere and nowhere, watching and feeling and seeing all the things she’d done and hadn’t done, and she remembered, but she didn’t, and they were there all around her bright and LOUD and calling out to her –
“Listen – ”
she watched the storm in the rearview mirror
don’t you forget a b o u t m e
chloe was lying dead in the street
“ – storm and the dark room – ”
N O F A T E
one by one they fell behind her
“the truth – ”
her hand grasped empty air as kate plummeted
the storm roared over them, and chloe’s hand slid out of her own
“ – still coming – ”
and I know you have a h e a v y h e a r t
the other max looked at her, and opened her mouth and –
I can feel it
they were under the covers and max kissed chloe in the darkness
“ – change – ”
people were running and screaming, there was no way they’d all make it out
a doe standing in a junkyard, rachel’s body buried beneath it
“You have to choose, Max.”
For a moment she drifted; at first everything seemed so bright she couldn’t see at all. She blinked, and the brightness faded a little. She blinked a few more times, and the world started to come into focus, and the light became less and less harsh. As it did, Max realized that she was staring up at Chloe’s face.
The florescent lights behind her head seemed to frame her, almost make her glow, and as Max’s vision sharpened she couldn’t help but stare. Without even thinking about it, Max reached down, feeling for her bag and the camera inside it.
It took Chloe a second to understand what Max was doing; she made a face and rolled her eyes, but when Max brought the camera up and focused the lens, Chloe’s expression softened, and she smiled, just a little.
Max took the picture. She shook it out and glanced at it – in her opinion, pictures of Chloe pretty much always turned out well – and then looked back up at Chloe. Neither of them had said anything, and when Max cleared her throat it somehow seemed too loud.
“Um, how long was I out?” She asked. She was lying in Chloe’s lap, legs splayed out awkwardly on the stairs. Chloe’s hands were on her shoulders, thumbs rubbing them soothingly.
“Maybe a minute,” Chloe shrugged. “And I, uh, cleaned you up a bit too.”
Max reached up, feeling around her nose, but there wasn’t any blood left. “Oh. Thanks.”
“Sure.” Chloe wasn’t looking at her anymore, or was deliberately not doing so. Her hands were still at Max’s shoulders, though, and even the smallest brush of her fingers was very distracting.
Max sat up, pushing herself to her feet with a grunt.
“You okay?” Chloe asked, standing as well, and Max turned on the stairs to face her. Chloe seemed even taller than usual, up on a higher step.
“I’m fine,” Max replied easily with a slight smile. “C’mon, let’s go.” Max started to reach her hand out to Chloe, and then stopped herself. Chloe had seemed weirded out the last time she did that.
“Right, so you fainted for no reason?” Chloe snorted, crossing her arms. “What happened, Max?”
Max hesitated. She looked down at her hands, and then up at Chloe again. “…I don’t know. I saw…a lot of things.”
“Things?” Chloe repeated, walking down to stand on the same step as her.
Max shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said again. “It was like…” she paused, trying to find the words to describe it. “It was like when I came back here, through my memories, even though…they didn’t all feel like my memories. But they seemed so real. I could – I could feel all of it, could hear everything so loud in my ears.” She shuddered a little, a chill going down her spine as she remembered it all. “I don’t know. It’s all so jumbled in my head.” Some things stood out sharply to her. Chloe, dead, in so many ways. Grasping for Kate’s hand. The storm, so loud, behind her and over her and in front of her and more. “And I heard my own voice,” she added. “Talking to me.”
Chloe’s eyebrows came together. “You’re hearing your own voice talking to you? Saying what?”
“I don’t hear all of it.” Max ran a hand over her head, which was aching a little. “Just bits and pieces, and it’s hard to understand. And when I try to remember it, it’s like – like trying to remember a dream.” She shook her head again.
For a few seconds there was silence. Chloe sighed, and Max jerked in surprise as Chloe took her hand, and started leading them down the stairs.
“C’mon, Max,” she said. “We’ll figure this shit out later.”
Max smiled, and tightened her hold on Chloe’s hand. “Together,” she agreed.
Chloe didn’t say anything, but as they drew level with each other and reached the bottom of the stairs, Max saw that she was smiling too.
From there they stepped out into the sunshine, and for a second Max couldn’t believe that she was really here. Really back. Victoria and Taylor were standing under a tree and laughing about something. Brooke was walking across the grass. Samuel was feeding his squirrels, Alyssa was reading on a bench. It was as if the storm and the Dark Room and Kate jumping and – and everything hadn’t happened at all. Because it hadn’t. It hadn’t happened. She remembered it, but it hadn’t happened.
Max forced herself to focus on what she was doing. She couldn’t keep getting…tripped out by all of this. She had to be ready for anything if she was going to save Chloe, and the town.
While she walked, she reluctantly let go of Chloe’s hand to type and send a text to Warren: Warren. Remember what I was starting to tell you in the parking lot? There’s more, and I need to tell you about it. Something bad is happening in Arcadia Bay, and at Blackwell. It’s going to be a lot to take in, but I need you to trust me. Please.
She waited anxiously for a reply, checking her phone as they made their way toward the parking lot. When she raised her phone to check it again, she did a double-take, spotting Warren standing just a few feet ahead of them.
That’s right! Max thought, mentally slapping herself. Today’s the day Warren was waiting here to ask me to ‘Go Ape’ with him.
Warren didn’t notice them approaching at first; he was looking at his phone – reading her text, Max assumed – his eyebrows furrowing, a little frown on his face. His black eye was still fresh, not mostly-healed like before – or, the night of the storm, Max corrected herself. There was no ‘before’, not here.
“Warren,” Max said as they stopped in front of him. He looked up in surprise, and Chloe backed off a few steps, her arms crossed, looking away from them.
“Oh – Max,” Warren said, smiling a little before becoming serious. “I just read your text. What you’re talking about sounds pretty huge.”
Max couldn’t help but laugh a little. “You have no idea. Can you meet us – ” She gestured to herself and Chloe “ – and Kate in the parking lot in about fifteen minutes? We’re going to head to Chloe’s place, and I promise I’ll explain everything there.” She paused, and then added: “Please, Warren. I know it’s a lot to take in, and I’ll do everything I can to make you believe me – ”
“Max,” Warren cut across her. “I’ll be there.”
A rush of gratitude filled her chest. Warren really was a wonderful friend. “Thank you, Warren. I – thank you. See you soon.” Max nodded at him, and then started heading toward the parking lot again, Chloe walking in step with her.
Max’s thoughts raced ahead as they approached Chloe’s truck. Warren was going to listen to her. Him and Kate were coming, and she’d do everything she could to make them believe her. Then, it was time to start figuring out what was really going on – if Chloe was really meant to die, if the storm and the Dark Room were connected somehow.
Together, they could find out the truth, and Max could save Chloe – could save the town.
“Kate and Warren aren’t the type to be late, so they should be here soon,” she told Chloe as they stopped in front of her truck. “And if they’re willing to miss some class, we can start trying to figure all this out.”
Chloe didn’t respond, and Max looked over at her. She was staring at the box of Rachel Amber MISSING posters in the bed of her truck.
“Guess there’s no fucking point to these any more,” Chloe said, giving the box a hard push and tipping it over so that the posters spilled all over the truck’s bed. She gripped the side of her truck, shoulders stiff, staring down at the overlapping posters.
“Chloe…” Max began, stepping toward her with her hand outstretched, but Chloe just tensed further.
“What, Max?” Chloe asked, whirling around at her. There were tears in her eyes again.
Max didn’t say anything, just stared back at her in concern, and Chloe’s shoulders slumped. She ran a hand over her face, shaking her head and leaning over the truck’s bed again.
“Max, I just…” Chloe gave a deep, shuddering breath. “I just need a minute. Please.” Her voice got quieter on the last word.
Max resisted the urge to go over and comfort her. She knew that Chloe sometimes needed time by herself when she was angry or upset. And she wouldn’t get much of a chance for that, not with Warren and Kate on the way.
The quiet, combined with Max’s own anxiousness, made the wait seem longer than it was. Max found herself continuously checking her phone, crossing and uncrossing her arms, standing on her toes to peer around for any sign of the others approaching.
She spotted Kate first, her distinctive bun catching Max’s eye. Warren was walking with her, and talking with her. Kate still seemed withdrawn, but she was nodding at Warren and making eye contact, and Max could see her responding to him as well. They seemed to notice Max watching them head toward her; they both started walking faster.
Chloe stood up as they got closer, her face rather blank, though her eyes were red again.
“Hey Kate, Warren,” Max said as they stopped in front of them.
Kate looked down at the ground and then back up, and nodded in response, hands fiddling with her skirt.
“Hey,” Warren said back, waving a little.
“Um, so if you guys can just follow us – ” Max gestured to the truck behind them. “ – to Chloe’s house. And once we’re there I’ll tell you everything. I promise.”
Kate and Warren glanced at each other, and then at Max again.
“I…really don’t understand any of this, Max,” Kate said, looking down at the ground once more, holding her purse tightly at her side. “But, I – I want to hear what you have to say. And I – I trust you.”
“Thank you, Kate,” Max said, stepping toward her and grabbing her hands, squeezing them, warming the other girl’s fingers.
“I trust you too, Max,” Warren told her. “There’s something big going on here, and I want to help.” Max smiled at him gratefully.
“Thank you,” she told him. Chloe – who hadn’t really even looked at either Kate or Warren – walked around to the other side of her truck, and climbed in the driver’s seat, shutting the door hard.
“Just follow behind us,” Max told Warren and Kate again, waving goodbye and getting in the passenger’s seat.
They waited in silence once more, watching Kate and Warren get in Warren’s car, which was a little further in the parking lot. They got in, and Warren started it up. Almost immediately, Chloe started hers, and – a little too quickly for Max’s comfort – drove them out of the parking lot, and onto the road, Warren’s car staying close behind them.
“Step-shit should be at Blackwell all day,” Chloe said as they all walked inside her house. “So we should have the place to ourselves.” Her tone was flat, and she was barely looking at any of them, but she was talking. Max hoped that was a good sign.
“You have a nice house,” Kate told her quietly, but sincerely.
Chloe opened her mouth to respond, and then stopped herself. “…Thanks.” She said, and Max knew that that wasn’t what she’d originally been going to say. Without another word, Chloe started heading up the stairs, not even glancing back at them.
“Um,” Warren said as they watched her head up to her room. They heard her shut the door loudly, not-quite a slam. Warren lowered his voice. “Is she okay?”
Chloe would have taken offense at the question, or gotten angrier, but Max could hear his real concern and confusion. “…No,” Max answered honestly, looking down at her right hand. “She’s not.” Max took in a slightly shaky breath. “She’s not okay, and I’m not okay, and – and after what I tell you guys, you probably won’t be either.” Max clenched her hand, and turned to look at the other two. “But we can work together to try and make it okay. Make it better.”
Warren and Kate exchanged glances. Kate seemed worried and apprehensive, her eyes kind of wide, while Warren looked torn between curiosity and confusion.
“Come on,” Max jerked her head up the stairs and started walking, the other two following behind her.
Chloe was already smoking, laying on her bed, legs dangling over the end. As Max stepped further into the room, she turned to see Warren and Kate taking it all in. Chloe’s room was quite a sight the first time, and Max hadn’t even thought about how Kate might be uncomfortable around Chloe smoking.
Thankfully, Kate didn’t seem too bothered, though her nose wrinkled at the smell. Warren didn’t seem to care about the pot at all, staring instead at the many different pictures and posters on the walls, including, Max noticed, with mild surprise at the naked women.
Kate moved to hover by the desk, her hands clutching at the bag on her shoulder, looking out the window.
Warren swung his hands awkwardly, scratching behind his head and looking between all of them. He opened his mouth to say something, but Chloe sat up and beat him to it.
“Well?” Chloe gestured at Max for her to start talking. She wasn’t looking at anyone, her movements tight, like a guitar string ready to snap.
Kate and Warren immediately focused on her, and for a moment Max felt – appropriately – like a deer in the headlights.
“Um,” She said, and she mentally facepalmed. Way to sound confident and like you know what you’re talking about, Max, she thought. “Uh, well…you guys might…you might want to sit down. There’s – there’s a lot to say, and…” Max sighed. “You just…you might want to sit down. Um…” She looked around for places for them to sit. There was the computer chair, but that was only one seat. Chloe was in the middle of her bed, and either didn’t notice that she was taking up too much room, or didn’t care.
Warren took one look at the seating situation and plopped himself down on the floor, crossing his legs.
“Oh – Warren,” Kate said, walking closer to him. “You don’t have to sit on the floor.”
Warren waved a hand. “Nah. It’s cool. I’m all buff and limber and stuff.” He flexed exaggeratedly.
Max snorted, smiling, while Kate actually laughed a little as she sat in the desk chair. Then her eyes were on Max again, and Warren was looking at her too, and now so was Chloe. For a second, all Max could do was look back at them. She took a deep breath and let it out.
There’s no easy way to tell them any of this, Max thought as she steeled herself to speak. So I might as well just begin.
It took time – oh, you so punny Max – to convince Warren and Kate about her powers. Well, it took time to convince Kate. Warren believed her pretty quickly, and pretty eagerly, like he had in her memories during the storm. It was almost like he’d been waiting for something like this to happen to him.
Then again, Max thought, I kind of was too.
Still, after all that Max had known about what happened to Kate at the Vortex Club party, and after correctly ‘predicting’ the contents of Kate’s purse, (as well as Warren’s pockets, and the exact color and type of the next three cars that drove by the house), Kate had started to believe Max. To really believe her, about her powers.
“But Max…” Kate shook her head. Her eyes were wide, and she kept looking at Max’s right hand. “How – how did you get this power? Why did you get this power? What does it have to do with – with my video?”
“Everything and nothing, Kate,” Max replied solemnly. “It’s more than just my power. There’s something bad happening in Arcadia Bay – and even more bad stuff is going to happen, and it all ties together.” She laced her fingers with each other for emphasis. “And…” Max hesitated, but then went on. “Kate, if you can, now would probably be the best time to talk about what happened the night of the party. But if you want me to do it I can,” she added.
For a moment Kate seemed at a loss for words. She looked at Max, at Chloe, at Warren, and slowly nodded. “N-no. I can do it.”
As Kate told the other two her spotty memories of that night, Max tried hard to listen for any details she might have missed.
“At first it – it seemed like a hospital,” Kate explained. “It was so white and bright…”
Max blinked, shaking her head, as the memory of the brightness of the Dark Room flashed before her eyes.
“And someone was talking to me, softly,” Kate went on, her voice trembling.
Max could hear it all – could hear HIM – so perfectly in her head. Oh, Max. These final sessions with you…
Nausea rolled in her stomach, and Max shivered, trying not to gag. For a second she could feel the tape around her wrists – she couldn’t MOVE, couldn’t do anything, she had to get out of here, she had to save Chloe, and Jefferson was coming toward her with a needle and he was smiling and smiling and –
Warren’s voice snapped her out of it, making Max blink and focus on the conversation again.
“Kate…” Warren’s eyebrows were furrowed with concern, and he’d gone pale at her words, his black eye standing out even more strongly now. “That’s so…God. I’m so, so, sorry that happened to you.” He reached forward like he was going to put his hand on her arm, but then he seemed to think better of it, and withdrew his hand.
Chloe was looking at Kate too, her joint stopped halfway to her mouth. Max knew – or thought she knew – part of what Chloe was thinking: that could have been her, too.
For a second Max could see it all so clearly: Chloe, dead, in the Dark Room, arms spread wide and eyes staring sightlessly.
Max swallowed hard, forcing back the image, and focused on Kate again.
“Max…you said you know what happened to me.” Kate met her eyes again. Her voice was shaking, but she wasn’t crying. “Tell me. What did Nathan…did he hurt me?” The last words were quiet, almost a whisper.
“Nathan,” Warren said his name like a curse. “I knew he was an asshole, but I never thought he’d – ”
“Well he did,” Chloe cut across him before Max could speak. “He’s done it before. He did it to Rachel, and – ” Chloe paused. “He tried to do it to me,” she finished.
Kate turned toward Chloe, mouth open in surprise. “He did?”
Chloe nodded, taking another hit off of her joint. “He slipped some shit in my beer. When I woke up he was holding a camera. Taking pictures of me.”
Kate’s hands went to her mouth. Warren looked like he was going to be sick.
“Is that…is that what he did to me, too?” Kate looked at Max again. “And Chloe, you said – you said he did this to Rachel Amber?” Her eyes widened. “Is that – is that why she went missing?”
Chloe’s face darkened. “She didn’t go missing,” she spat. “Rachel’s fucking DEAD. Nathan killed her, and we’re going to make him pay.”
“What?!” Warren and Kate said at the same time.
“Hold on!” Max jumped in, holding up her hands before anyone else could speak. “There’s more to it that you all need to understand – ”
“But if Nathan killed Rachel, we – we have to tell the police!” Kate insisted. “And – if everything you’ve said is true, we can tell the police about what happened at the party, and they can arrest Nathan – ”
“Fuck that, I want to kill the little bastard,” Chloe snarled.
“It’s not just Nathan,” Max spoke louder over her, over both of them. Chloe glared at her, but then crossed her arms and looked away. Max knew that was probably the best response she was going to get from her right now. “It’s not just Nathan,” Max repeated. “In fact, he’s being manipulated into all of this.”
“So fucking what?” Chloe demanded. “That doesn’t excuse ANYTHING he’s done – ”
“I never said it did!” Max shot back, frustration mounting in her. She had to get them to listen to her, to understand. “But he’s still being used like a puppet at the whims of someone else!” She took a deep breath. “And that ‘someone else’ is Mark Jefferson.”
Chloe – as Max had already told her – barely reacted to this, her eyes flicking up to look at Max and then away. Kate and Warren simply stared at her in stunned silence.
“Wait…” Warren said slowly. “Jefferson? That’s – I mean…” he shook his head, seeming at a loss for words. He curled forward, holding his head in his hands, but Max was more worried about Kate.
She’d known it wouldn’t be easy for Kate especially to believe her about all of this. With Chloe and Warren…even though it had been in another time, another life, she’d seen them believe her about seemingly impossible things. But with Kate…Max honestly wasn’t sure how she would respond.
Kate’s hands – which had gone over her mouth – slowly lowered. She hadn’t looked away from Max the whole time, either. Now she searched her face, looking for…some sign that Max was lying, maybe?
After several long seconds, Kate nodded. “I don’t…” She paused, letting out a shaky breath. “I still don’t understand, but I…I don’t think you’re lying, Max.”
“I’m not,” Max told her. “And there’s – there’s more, if you guys are willing to listen.”
“More?” Warren asked weakly, laughing a little to himself. “Max, I think my brain’s about to explode, but…I’ll listen to anything you have to say.” He straightened, and looked at Chloe and Kate, and then Max again. “I want to help you.”
Kate looked down at her hands in her lap, and then back up again. “I don’t know if I completely believe you,” she admitted. “But…I think I do. Tell us everything. If we can get justice for what N-Nathan and…and Mr. Jefferson have done…then I want to help, too.”
Max looked at Chloe now. She knew that Chloe wasn’t going to suddenly tell her that she didn’t believe her, but she still felt…anxious? Worried? Max wasn’t even sure what she wanted Chloe to say or do, but Chloe met her eyes and then moved, making room for Max to sit next to her on the bed.
Max sat down beside her, their hands so close they were almost touching. Max wanted to grab her hand, to hold her, but stopped herself.
Chloe seemed to read her mind, because she grabbed Max’s hand in her own, their fingers curling around the other. “I’m with you, Max,” she said simply, and Max didn’t have the words to describe how that simple sentence made her feel.
“Thank you,” she managed as tears burned at her eyes. She squeezed Chloe’s hand, and then turned her attention to Warren and Kate. “Thank you,” she repeated. She took a deep breath, and told them everything, holding Chloe’s hand the whole time.