Four panic attacks in one week had to be some personal record for Max. Locking herself in bathroom stalls, her dormitory, knees bent and shaking like jelly, feeling as if she were about to throw up. Her fingers were numb from clutching handfuls of tissue, the red of her fingertips being offset by the pale of the backs of her hands that were trickled by goosebumps from the guilt that had plagued the brunette since her return to a colder Arcadia Bay than the one she had left. Chloe, who Max had abandoned seemingly with ease, the young woman she left twisting from her father’s death, to macular degeneration when she had turned 18. It was glaucoma, rare, slow building, watching inky blackness suppress your vision until you cant even watch that any more. The thought alone was almost enough to make Max weep as she was curled up on Joyce’s bathroom floor, those same shaking hands covering her mouth trapping the cries and breathless gasps.
“…Max? You’re still there, right?” Chloe yelled from the bed in her room, voice a joking tone, thinking that her friend had gone to the toilet and wasn’t sprawled on a soggy and patchy bath mat.
‘Just, get yourself together Max!’ That familiar voice in her head rang, the crying girl obligated to obey her own commands that were sparking in her mind, sending the message to her legs, causing them to get up so fast she thought her jeans would rip. “Y-Yeah, I’m here Chloe!” Max replied, yelling also as she wiped away tears, frankly still needing to cry.
She made her way to the door, stumbling slightly from standing up too fast. Clearing her caught and hoarse throat, Max turned the doorknob which let out a sharp squeak that unbeknownst to her made Chloe jump in the other room, rubbing a hand through blue hair to play it off, thought, quickly remembering her friend couldn’t see her. Ironic in a way, all Chloe wanted was to see how the years had changed Max, not that she could even remember how the she looked before. It was just black. But voices she recognised had become so much clearer, hearing every breath when they were close. Still somehow unable to hear Max’s cries. Maybe just blocking them out, never wanting her in such a state.
Luckily the human time machine hadn’t had a chance to use her powers, like if Chloe was in some sort of accident. Despite taking care of her and acting as company she was proud when she watched the blind girl use her white stick with ease, certain she could knock someone on their ass with it. Saying Chloe Price had changed was an understatement.
Max was back into that dingy, punk rock room, walking slowly, each step making the floorboards creak, alerting her friend with each trod.
“What took you so long?” Chloe asked again, her closed eyes seemingly glared at Max.
The brunette scoffed, moving to sit next to Chloe on her bed. “You want to know what I’m doing in the bathroom?”
“Touché,” Chloe replied before turning her head to her open window, feeling a steady stream of sunlight press against her face.
This short reply made Max smile with a look of what could only be described as hope. Or some realisation that Chloe was Chloe, after all these years she was still one of the most important person in the world to her. Not that Max Caulfield had many other people she could even call that besides family members. Some part of her was hoping Chloe felt the same way about her, but by now it was clear that Rachel Amber had replaced her.
She wished she could reverse time further and changed it all, staying with her friend until darkness took her over literally, and staying even longer after that…
They were both in silence for a few minutes, Max just staring at Chloe’s bright blue hair, wondering if she would have changed it- changed herself if she had stayed by her side.
“…Rachel left me before I lost all my sight. She was one of the last people I saw…” Chloe broke the silence and took a deep breath, a frown formed on her face, “How God-damn poetic…” she spat out bitterly.
Max’s hand reached across the bedsheets, planting itself on top of Chloe’s. “You are not the reason she’s missing, she wouldn’t have left you like this.”
This act of comfort only seemed to make Chloe madder.
“Like how you left me, Max?” She replied, her tone now much harsher intentionally, her head turned back to face her friend as some sort of guilt trip, though her hand stayed as it was, protected by Max’s.
The brunette felt more tears that she had been waiting to creep their way to the back of her eyes, pushed by that tone of voice that practically echoed across the room. “Chloe…” her voice cracked before being cut off. “I-I didn’t want to leave you-”
“Then why didn’t you at least come back for me?”
Chloe’s question seemed justified in her mind, but still managed to boil up the young woman and making her angrier, as if she could hear her tone echo as well.
“Why are you even here? To make up for all this lost time you missed out on spending with me? Trying to check a good deed off your list of things to do before you go back to your jock boys in Blackwell?!” Her hand had retreated now, already missing the comfort. “Y-You know you probably spend more time with my step-douche than I do- Than I can?! You don’t even own a car and you’ll still able to drive one!”
Chloe’s voice had become cracked now, warm tears streaming slowly down from her close, twitching eyes to her cheeks. “And the worst part is, even after finding out I was like… this!” She used her now free hand to point at her eyes, “It took you a fucking month before you even called me!..”
She could tell Max was crying with her, hearing small sobs desperately trying to be repressed. Max knew that there was no answer that would satisfy her blind friend, the truth that she was too scared to being the worst thing to say. And the one of the most, if not the most cowardly thing she had ever done in her life.
The still pale and lightly shaking hands of Max reached up to cup her friend’s face, wiping away stray tears with her thumbs. It made Chloe open her eyes, revealing a canvas of bloodshot white, her ruined blue iris holding a permanently damaged pupils in suspension. Just darted judgingly at her, though completely unable to see. Max took Chloe’s now limp and less resistant hands to her own face, letting her finally examine what she lost.
“I just missed you. So much…” Chloe cried quietly and uncharacteristically.
It didn’t matter.
Max pulled Chloe forward lightly and gently, pressing her trembling lips against her friend’s. Though it was only a few seconds, it felt like eternity for both of them before they were left in silence again, Chloe stunned by Max’s actions, Max feeling a weight rise from her heavy shoulders, both of them now losing their sense of sound locked away in a quiet room in Arcadia Bay.
Finally together again.