Where ever she goes, there I’m home

We rode mostly in silence. Her presence though a comfort to me, did little to relieve the crushing weight of guilt that pressed down on me. All those people gone, no dead, because of me.

My phone rings again, it’s been doing that regularly for the past hour or so. I can see her flinch when it does out of the corner of my eye. I already know who it is, every time. I pick it up, but only to silence the ringer. I can feel her concern, and disapproval, but I just can’t answer it.

“Max… You should answer them.” She speaks to me softly, soothingly. She rests her hand on my shoulder, and it’s so warm. I feel lighter when she touches me, the guilt doesn’t feel so heavy. It doesn’t last long.

“Chloe I-I can’t. I don’t… I have no right.” I wrap my arms around my middle, and turn a little further way from her. It hurts to see her. I took her parents away from her, what right do I have to mine? I start to sink back down into those thoughts when the truck suddenly jerks. I brace myself looking over at Chloe wide eyed and perhaps a little panicked as she performs a wild U-turn.

“Ch-Chloe.. what.. what’re you doing?” I pant out, clutching my chest, while I try to get my heart rate back under control.

“If you’re not going to answer your phone, then I’m going to take you to see them in Seattle.” She speaks gruffly. I know this is hurting her, but I also know she cares. Underneath the rough exterior she’s really very sweet. It’s part of why I love her, I just hope she doesn’t come hate me when everything finally sinks in.

“I can’t Chloe, I Have no right to have my parents after… After I k-killed Joy-”

“Fuck that! Max, you didn’t… You didn’t ask for any of this, Ok? This Isn’t your fault. It was all just hella fucked up, and Ok, so you couldn’t save everyone, but you saved me…” Her voice begins to waver towards the end, her words slowly becoming softer. “…That’s something, right? I mean.. Maybe you aren’t a superhero, but you’re still My hero.”

She pulls the truck to the side of the road, and shuts off the engine. She reaches up scrubbing at her eyes for a moment. ” Fuck! Fuck fuck Fuck!” she pounds on the steering wheel. I flinch every time she does. “Why did you do it Max? Fuck Why did you pick me? I’m not worth all this regr-”

“NO!” My voice cracks like a whip, and we both flinch at my vehemence. ” Chloe… you think I regret this? Regret you? Chloe I Love you. I don’t regret it, I don’t regret it even a little. I feel guilty, SO guilty, but I don’t regret it and..” I wrap my arms around myself and squeeze down into myself as small as I can get. “…and it scares me Chloe, how much I love you. How willing I still am to do it all over again, even after what Just happened.” I bite my lip unable to bring myself to even peek over at her. “I… I understand if you hate me, Joyce… William both deserved better than to have their fates in my hands.” I try to swallow the lump in my throat, and continue softer than before. “You don’t have to stay with me… I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay, I just… I couldn’t live in a world where you were, dead.” I squeeze my eyes closed, and let the tears fall unhindered. I know she’s going to leave, how could she do anything else?

She was silent for what felt like forever, until a few sniffles break the pregnant silence. “Shit Max.. I-I don’t Hate you, I mean Fuck.. You’ the best person I’ve ever known. Yes, losing mom hurts, but..” She takes a deep heaving breath. “It doesn’t… I know she’d want me to live… she was good like that, like you. I just I don’t understand how either of you could possibly love me That much. I’m nothing, I’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass to Everyone since…”

“I killed William..” I add helpfully.

I can feel Chloe frown, and as if to punctuate that feeling she hits the steering wheel. “Seriously Max knock that shit off! Ok? You didn’t Kill him that was.. that stupid fucker driving the truck. Ok? The whole thing was hella fucked up, and you know what if it was Me? I’d have chosen you too.. so.. so…” As she trails off, I finally pull out of myself a little and look over at her as she stares hard at the steering wheel, looking vulnerable.

I un-curled myself, and unlatched my safety-belt. I crawled across the seat, and wrapped my arms around her. I licked my lips, and after a long moment of insecurity, I lean in kissing her cheek. I squeeze her almost desperately now that I’ve started, and kiss the corner of her mouth. I’m so afraid this is too much, that I’m not being comforting. I’m afraid I’m fucking this up too, but I don’t let go. I can’t let go.

“I’ve been in Love with you since we were kids…” she says softly, nearly a whisper really. “I used to keep a diary you know? All my entries were letters…to you.” I can feel her cheeks getting hot, and so I kiss her cheek again softly. “Hella stupid.. right? But.. It helped me feel a little closer to you.”

“It’s not stupid Chloe.” I shake my head and reach up, gently turning her face so I can look her in the eye. ” It’s really sweet..” I lick my lips, my eyes dropping to hers for a moment. I take a deep breath preparing myself. “I was in love you you back then too.” I wince as she looks at me incredulously, and I reach up placing my finger on her lips before she can say something. ” I mean it Chloe, I was just.. So afraid of my feelings back then, and so afraid of what would happen when we were separated… I pushed you away, like an idiot. I’m so Sorry Chloe, but I promise I never forgot you, and… never stopped loving you.”

I had more apologies, I always have more. None of them were uttered though, as Chloe’s lips found mine, and she kissed me no dare necessary. It was soft, and gentle, but she wasn’t afraid to take it further. Chloe’s always been so fearless. She asked for deep and passionate, and I gave it right back to her. Being so close felt like home. It was the first thing I realized about being with Chloe again after we started hanging out. This was right, and nothing has ever been as right for me as this was.

My phone rings, and Chloe pulls away like we’ve just been caught doing something we shouldn’t. “Wowsers..”I let slip, and we both laugh a little nervously. I press my forehead against hers, and I smile at her, staring deeply into her eyes. She gives me another quick kiss before taking a deep breath. “You should answer that Maximus. You.. need them after everything. I’ll be fine.. I don’t need anyone really..” she looks away for a moment. ” Uhm.. except you.”

I bite my lip. ” Chloe I-I don’t..” she shakes her head, and frowns at me. ” Don’t say it Max.. You do deserve them, ok? I’m fine, I don’t hate you, I Can’t hate you. I tried for a long time after you left.. This whole thing has been fucked up, but I don’t blame you either. Mostly I’m just.. blown away that you could, you know, Love me at all let alone That much.” She exhales heavily, and shakes her head. ” But.. I’m glad you do, I’m glad you came back, and I’m glad I’m alive even if it sucks right now.” she laughs a little bitterly, but wraps me up in her arms, and squeezes me close. I snuggle into her gently. “Besides… Seattle is as good a place as any to stop for a rest and resupply on our road trip right?”

I stare at her for a few moments, and laugh softly. “I… I guess so.” I nod once, and she squeezes me gently. “I’m not sure about getting a tattoo though..” She stares at me for a few moments, and I bite my lip. ” Uhh..Portland. Tats, weed, beer, and donuts.. and then you added something about strip-never mind.” my cheeks burn softly, and I look away. Chloe just laughs at me. “Well now that I know Max Caulfield is a lady killer… maaaaybe..” I can hear the laugh in her voice.

“You’re such a dork..” I swat at her gently, laughing. “Besides for all you know I’m just.. Umm.. Chloe-sexual.” I turn back to stick my tongue out at her. She laughs, preening a little bit. ” Well you know, if that’s the case I’m going to have to fight every other Chloe we meet.. No one’s gonna take my first mate away.” my cheeks flush again softly, and I lean in till our lips brush, but of course that’s when my phone goes off, again.

Our smiles die, and I let out a long suffering sigh as I pull away a just a little bit. Every little bit is too much. Chloe just looks at me seriously for a moment collecting her thoughts, or nerve, or something. “You should answer it Max, seriously. I’m never leaving you, so, let them know you’re O…alive.” I sigh softly, but nod. “O-ok Chloe… ”

I lean in for one last Kiss, and entwine our fingers together, before I slide over towards the passenger seat. She squeezes my hand gently as I pick up my phone, and scroll slowly through my contacts. Chloe pulls her hand away, and I look over suddenly feeling bereft of her presence. She just winks at me, as she starts the truck back up, and retakes my hand. I smile at her and look back down at my phone. She really does make me feel like I know what I’m doing. With that thought, and a deep breath, I finally hit the button to make the call.

“Max?” Mom picks up quickly, and I can hear the tears in her voice. I take a deep breath adding a new guilty feeling to the pile, and give Chloe’s hand a little squeeze. She still here, she’s alive, I’m not alone. “Hi mom… We’re alive, we uhm.. just got somewhere that I could get signal.” Chloe gives my hand a squeeze, and I can see her glance over at me as I lie to my Mom. What else could I do though? Tell her I didn’t want to answer because I was feeling guilty for Murdering a whole town? She gives my hand another squeeze, and I release the breath I didn’t know I was holding, she’s supporting me, I’m the only one judging me right now.

I realize I haven’t heard a single word my Mom’s been saying the past few moments.”I uhh.. fuck. Sorry.. w-what did you say?” Max Caulfield smooth operator. “I asked if you were ok sweetie… and.. who’s we?” I lick my lips and sigh softly. ” I’m.. alive…uhh.. no injuries, and We.. that’d be me, and C-Chloe.” My mom’s quiet for a moment. “I’m glad you’re ok..” she doesn’t sound quite like she believes me but I never said I was ok, just un-injured. “Is Chloe.. is that Chloe Price?” I look over at Chloe again. I really just want to kiss her again, to run away somewhere and pretend none of this bullshit week even happened. I swallow that down, and nod. When I remember mom can’t see me, I speak up, a little bit of embarrassment tinging my speech. ” Yeah mom Chloe Price She…” I smile over at her. “She kept me safe.”

“You’re hella right I did!” she throws me a quick wink, and I can’t help but giggle. It’s short lived though as Mom begins to speak again. “Did Joy..” I cut her off quickly, and it comes out much harsher than I mean it to.”No.” I take a deep breath, and this time my voice comes out much more normally. ” Umm.. no Mom.” There’s a pause on her end, before she speaks up. “Well I’m glad she was with you, and that she’s ok too. I’ll send your father out to pick you two up if.. you can just tell me.. where you are now?” I shake my head, and again realize I’m on the phone. I take a deep breath. “Uhh.. no that’s ok, We’re heading there in Chloe’s truck…umm so No need to send Dad out.”

When she speaks again it’s a little hesitantly, but she doesn’t fight me on it. ” Alright sweetheart.. Do you still have your card? We’ll put money in your account for anything you need for the trip.. ok?” I huff a soft breath out, and smile a bit at her concern. ” I do, yeah that’d be.. good thank you.” I can hear mom hesitate on the other end for a few moments before speaking. “I’ll go make up the guest room for Chloe, I’ll put your father on. I love you sweetheart. See you soon.” I almost respond positively, before it all filters though. ” Wait No! I mean.. yes, put dad on but.. No, don’t make up the guest room.. uhm.. Chloe is gonna stay in my room… with me.” There’s a pause before mom speaks again. ” Oh, alright, that’s fine too…If uhm Chloe doesn’t mind uhm, not having her own space and all.” she sounds a little uncertain about that. “I uhm, yeah we’ll, we can discuss that when we get there.. ok?”

I look over to see Chloe looking a little shocked, until she catches me looking at her. She shoots me a grin, and waggles her eyebrows suggestively. I wrinkle my nose at her trying not to giggle in my Mom’s ear for the second time. I give her hand a gentle squeeze as mom hands the phone off to dad. “Hey kiddo..” He sounds relieved, and I feel little more guilt. “Hey dad…I uh.. it’s nice to hear your voice.” He chuckles softly. “Yeah, I feel the same way. Are you kids ok? Your mom looked a little… concerned after your conversation.” I bite my lip. “Uh.. maybe? I mean I told her there’s something I need to talk to her, you both really about when we get there.” he just hums speculatively. Not much to go on Dad, thanks for that.

My heart is beating like a million miles a minute by this point, and well it must show because Chloe gives my hand a reassuring squeeze. I can hear her speaking softly to me. ” You’ve got this super Max, we’re in this together. I’m right here.” I take a deep breath. “I just, I mean I really don;t want to do this on the phone dad, it’s really nothing bad… I don’t think. I mean It’s Not a bad thing, but if you think it’s bad then That’s bad I mean the your opinion part not that you…” I frown, and shake my head. “Ugh! Really this would be easier if we were there..” Chloe squeezes my hand again, as my dad speaks up. “I understand sweetheart, you don;t need to worry, You know your mom and I love you no matter what you and Chloe have to tell us.. you know your mom just worries.” The way he stressed Chloe’s name I’m left with the sense he already knows, but it Is reassuring. I exhale slowly. ” yeah I know.. but I just don’t want there to be any drama.” I’ve head more than enough of that for a lifetime, or at least part of one. “As long as you’re happy.. that’s all that matters.” I can’t help but tear up a little to hear it. ” I am dad, I really, Really am.”

I look over at Chloe, and just watch her for a moment. I’m a little surprised to find out that wasn’t a lie either. I am happy, it’s not perfect, there’s a lot of pain and guilt still waiting there, but She’s here, she’s Alive, and that makes me happy. “That’s good Kiddo, I’m happy for you then. I’ll let you go now, just.. Call us if you need anything, and give your best to Chloe, for the both of us. I love you kiddo.” I smile. ” I will, thanks dad. I love you too.”

I exhale heavily as I put my phone away. I let my eyes drift over to Chloe, watching her drive for a few moments before speaking. “Mom and dad send their best…” I pauses a moment, curling into myself a little. “I uhh.. think they know what I want to talk to them about already.” Chloe laughs in response. “Well you weren’t exactly subtle there Mad Max. You referred to us almost exclusively as an ‘Us’, and then told them you wanted to talk to them about something.” She shoots a glance my way for a moment, her smile dying somewhat. “Shit, not like that’s not a hella awesome thing… I mean you want everyone to know we’re an us.. so I mean that’s good, I like that, I totally want to show you off everywhere too. Like I’d scream it out the window if anyone was on the road.” She grins mischievously, as she rolls down her window, and shoves her head out. “Cry yourselves to sleep bitches, because Max Caulfield is hella Mine!” she screams into the wind.

“Chloe you’re completely ridiculous!” I laugh and swat at her arm lightly. “Get back in here before you get yourself…” I inhale sharply, it suddenly wasn’t funny anymore. I grab her arm, and gently but insistently tug, and either she could hear me, or could sense the urgency because she didn’t put up a fight as I pulled her back in. She glances over at me looking guilty. “Shit max, I didn’t.. I wasn’t thinking.” She reaches over and places her hand on my thigh, rubbing in small soothing circles.

I take a deep breath, and place my hand on top of hers. “N-no, it’s ok.. I just, so much bullshit this week.” I unhook my seat-belt, and slide into the middle. I try to get the middle belt quickly, because Chloe’s starting to look a little freaked.”Sorry..” I mumble as I lean over the lay my head on her shoulder. She shrugs in response, and wraps her arm around my shoulders. “S’fine.”

I stare forward out the windshield as we head towards our future. The quiet envelops us, but it’s comfortable, there’s nothing to say just now. We just bask in each others warmth for now. This fragile peace we have probably won’t last long, and we’re not ok, but we’re in love. Maybe someday we’ll manage to seal those cracks, and be able to leave behind all the pain and guilt. Or most of it anyway. We’re able to be happy in this moment, and that’s proof enough that we can make it no matter what comes. It doesn’t matter what’s ahead because we have each other, and wherever she goes, there I’m home.

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Fuck this is so good, whoever you are, this is exactly how I imagined my headcanon ending.

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