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JULY

 

            A shoebox sails out to sea on a cool July afternoon as sadness blows in from the Pacific Ocean into Arcadia Bay.

            Alice the Rabbit is dead. Natural causes: the killer of the eight-year old pet.

            Solemnly standing by the shores as waves gently crash along the land are Kate Marsh and Victoria Chase. 

            And behind them are Kate’s parents, Richard and Sandra, here at this ceremony to provide support to their daughter and her kinda-wife in this time of tragedy. Rich walks forward and puts a hand on Kate’s shoulder. He somberly tells her, “Katie, we’re so sorry about this happening to Alice.”

            Kate nods her head as she and Victoria hold hands. “Thank you, Dad. It’s just, she was so young.”

            Richard shrugs his shoulders tiredly. “Well, rabbits aren’t known for their longevity. But she was a darn good rabbit, wasn’t she?”

            Kate nods her head as Victoria wipes tears from her cheeks. “She was.”

            Richard gives her one of his endearing dad grins. He adds, with a pointed finger, “And that’s what matters. She was good to you, in the time she had. And she’ll always be with you.”

            Sandra walks up to Kate and rubs her back, telling her, “Always.”

            Victoria looks at Kate and kisses her forehead: “You were the best bunny mom I’d ever seen. I’m proud of you. And so is Alice. Wherever she is.” She tells the Marshes, “Let’s go grab something to eat.”

            Kate asks her, “Two Whales?”


 

            “One week was all she had after Dolly took her.” Kate sighs as she eats a french fry dipped in mustard.

            Victoria crosses her arms as she looks out at the Bay. Angry - not at Kate or her parents, but at the evil out there in the world. The evil who hurt Kate in kidnapping Alice: “She surely didn’t kill her. But still, that sick bitch took her for just a few moments. Glad Dolly’s where she belongs now…” Kate holds her hand to calm her down and bring her back to her senses. Victoria puts a palm on her temple and says sheepishly to the table, “I- um, sorry.”

            Rich takes a bite of his cheeseburger and washes it down with a mug of milk. He tells her, “It’s alright.”

            Victoria looks at Kate’s hand and eases up. Kate continues, “She also didn’t hurt her. That much was clear. But I know that Alice is in a better place now.”

            Victoria cuts a square into her waffles and takes a bite of it, stating with her mouth full, “Amen.”

            Richard looks at the two and says, “So, to make things lighter, congrats on the proposal.”

            Victoria nods her head and swallows her waffles. “Ah, yes. Just what I wanted to talk to you about. Thank you." 

            Richard asks, gulping his milk, "When's the wedding?"

            Victoria laughs a bit, somewhat nervously. She tells him. "We weren't really planning one, all things considered. Not a lot of time. We were just gonna live together and, I dunno, work."

            Richard puts down his milk and proclaims to them, "You're not dying, neither of you. What's the matter?"

            Kate tells him, "That whole 'armageddon' thing, remember?"

            Richard shrugs his shoulders, looks to his wife, and then to Kate and Victoria. "So? Uncle Lou had his wedding on New Years 2000 and I don’t remember any satellites crashing down on us. The Lord didn’t whisk me away or anyone else. A big tsunami didn’t blow into town.”

            Kate laughs and tells him, "You know what I mean."

            Richard nods his head. “I do. So don’t let this ‘end of days’ malarkey get in the way of love. Besides, aren’t you two superheroes?”

            Victoria looks around as Kate shushes him quickly, adding, “Kinda, but that’s a secret.”

            Richard covers his mouth and says, “Oops. Sorry. But yeah, just beat down this bad guy - Bethlehem, or whatever - and get to the church on time, you know?”

            Victoria adds, “We can try. He seems tough though. He’s an evil tattoo.”

            Richard raises one of his eyebrows and tells her, “Ever heard of laser tattoo removal?”

            “I… Maybe that could work?” Victoria taps her chin with her finger before turning to Kate and asking, “Katie, what’s your take on lasers?”

            “I can try and make them.”

            Victoria perks up and smiles at her, telling her, “Good! Then we do that next time Bedlam shows his ugly… skull.” She extends a hand to Richard: “You have my word, Rich. We won’t let evil get in the way of our marriage…” Richard shakes her hand and she adds, “ God, that sounds weird saying out loud. How’s November sounding? A lot of time to plan.”

            Richard smiles at the two girls and tells them, “It can most certainly work.”


 

            “All it needs is a little bit of reconfiguring for going back. Worst thing you want is a goddamn black hole or something.” A scalpel stabs into a wormhole watch as several microscopic tendrils toy with its inner workings. “Let’s just hope 2039 or whenever doesn’t have one, thanks to Iris’ and his dumb ‘Patriots-AI’ ass.”

            Inside an open prison cell with photographs on a wall next to a bed, Dr. Wanda Court snickers in agreement as she retracts the tiny tendrils into her index finger. With oven mitts on her hands and goggles on her eyes, the Other Max grabs the watch and fiddles with the hands on its face.

            Suddenly, in steps Sean Prescott, financier of the Agency of Metahuman Containment. He asks of the two women, “How are my two leading mad scientists doing tonight?”

            Court says to him, “Just phenomenal, Mister Prescott!”

            The Other Max adds, “Yes. Phenomenal, indeed.”

            Sean snaps his fingers at the girls and tells them, “That’s what I like to hear!” He walks over to the Other Max and looks at the wormhole watch, nodding in approval as a low hum emanates from it.

            Court asks him, “What’s up with the Enforcers?”

            Sean explains as he paces around the cell, “Jumper’s been on the case for the past little while. No new reports… Of course, aside from… her other handing Teddy over to the FBI on a silver platter. But trust me, we’ll get all those bastards in due time. And we’ll see what makes them tick.”

            The menacing Other Max looks at the watch as it begins ticking past twelve o’clock sharp. She responds, “Neat.”


 

AUGUST

 

            Tick tock tick tock .

            As the clock ticks down, Victoria and Kate lie in bed together, holding and kissing one another. Victoria says to Kate, “Just a few seconds to six. Then, it’s cake time.”

            Victoria plops a kiss on Kate' neck, prompting her to ask, “Mm. Is it though?”

            With a laugh, Victoria says, “Of course, Katie. It’s obviously my birthday. Sucks that everyone else couldn’t make it. Just us, my parents, and Auntie Mia. Ah, she's the best Auntie.”

            "Better than mine.” Kate hugs Victoria, telling her, “But all that matters is that you're here. And I'm here."

            “True. But, like, what is everyone doing today, of all days, that makes them all so busy?”

            “Working. Maybe hunting down those Enforcers.”

            “Mayb-” An alarm on Kate's phone goes off: Doodele-doo-da-le-doot-doot . Doodele-doo-da-le-doot-doot . Victoria shoots her a joyful grin and says, “Cake time.”

            “Of course.” The two step out of bed, letting the blanket that was covering them fall onto the mattress, and hold hands while looking into each other’s eyes. Kate says, “Let’s cover your eyes”, and she raises her hands up to Victoria’s cheeks, playfully pinching them.

            She places her hands over Victoria’s eyes and begins leading her out of her bedroom. “Oh god, is someone gonna throw a yoga ball at my head?”

            Down the hallway. “Here’s a hint: No.”

            Just outside of the living room. “Good.”

            Walking into the living room, Kate moves her hands away from Victoria’s eyes.

“SURPRIIIIISE!”

            Standing in the living room are Victoria’s parents, her aunt Mia, Max Caulfield and Chloe Price, Rachel and Rose Amber, Joyce, David and little Clarence W. Price, Taylor Christensen and Courtney Wagner, Sean, Esteban and both Daniel Diazes, Kate's sisters and her parents, K’mai, Master Godho, Sani, and Naton. They are standing in front of a big cake with red, white and gray frosting.

            Victoria's eyes become filled with tears, happy tears, for all the happy people around her. She yelps gleefully, “OHMYGODDDD!”

            From there, everyone sings for her as Kate leads her closer to the cake:

            “ Happy biiiirthday - congratulaaaations!

Happy biiiirthday - with salutaaaations!

Happy biiiirthday - and may your skies stay bluuuue

Happy biiiirthday - to yoooou!

            Victoria blows out the nineteen candles on her birthday cake, much to the applause of the many friends and family around her. Kate kisses her on the cheek as Chloe pats her on the shoulder.

            Chloe asks, with that devilish grin of hers, “What’d ya wish for?”

            Victoria holds back a laugh as she tells her with a smirk, “Can’t say it, Chloe, or it won’t come true.”

            Chloe shrugs. “Fair enough.”

            Max drags Rachel over to the other three girls and brings them all together as a small swarm of blue butterflies hold a polaroid camera in front of the girls. She tells her friends, “Okay, everyone, get in the picture!” As the five bunch together, Max holds Chloe’s hand and Kate loops an arm around Victoria’s waist. Max tells the group, “Smile!” And they do as a butterfly descends onto the button.

             SNAP schooom . The butterflies hand the camera to Max and she takes the photograph out of the camera to shake it, as she usually does.

            Colin Chase, Victoria’s father, confusedly asks, “Wha- why shake it?”

            Max looks at him and shrugs, telling him jovially, “It’s cool.”

            He looks at her with squinted eyes. “It shakes up the image, doesn’t it?”

            Victoria steps forward and puts a hand on his shoulder before telling him, "Trust her, Dad. She knows what she’s doing."

            Max hands the photograph to Victoria and the two Chases look at it. Turns out it wouldn’t be shaken up. Colin hums as he observes the image. “It’s very nice.”

            Max nods her head and says, “Thank you”, before walking over to Chloe.

            Onto the cake cutting. Victoria’s mother, Zara Chase, cuts a slice for her daughter and puts it on a plate. "Here's your slice, sweetie."

            Victoria nods her head as she takes the plate and says, "Thanks." She takes a bite of the cake and seems to enjoy it.

            Zara cuts another slice and puts it on a plate for Kate. "And here is yours."

            Kate takes the plate while graciously saying, “Thank you” and she walks over to Victoria as she takes a seat on the living room couch.

            Chloe walks forward with a baby carrier now attached to her chest. Seated in it is her baby half-brother, Clarence, born just two weeks prior. "How about some for the other August folks?"

            Sean Diaz walks forward with a smile, stating, "I could go for some cake."

            Zara cuts a slice for him and puts it on a plate. She hands it to Sean but it is swiftly spirited away. Sean turns to glare at his two brothers and annoyedly exclaims, "Daniel… s!" Zara gives him another slice and he tells her, "Thank you” as he walks over to the young monk K’mai and the two Daniel Diazes eating his original slice.

            Zara cuts a slice for Chloe, telling her cautiously, “Give this one to the baby.”

            “Of course.” Chloe detects some tension within Victoria’s mother, considering her history with her daughter. To ease these feelings up, Chloe immediately cuts a small piece and gives it to Clarence to eat. "Chow down, little guy." Clarence awkwardly eats the piece of cake and clearly wants more, prompting a chuckle from Chloe.

            Max walks over and says, “You’re doing great, deary.”

            Chloe giggles. “Hey, he’s not ours.” She rubs Clarence’s head softly and says, “Guess he can be close enough though. Think he'll be like me?"

           A wide grin crosses Max’s face and she tells her, "There will never be someone else like you."

            Zara walks around the living room to observe the party. Everything is going good. She grabs a plate of cake for herself and takes a bite. She walks over to Victoria and says, “Vic, this stuff is delicious! Where’d you say you got it from?”

            “Some bakery on Mars that the Marauders are running.” Victoria adds with a laugh, “Yes. There’s life on Mars now.” Zara nods along as she viciously tears into her slice of cake.

            Colin looks at it and asks, “Is it… non-allergenic?”

            “I think so.” Victoria looks away as a snarky smile grows on her face. “Though it’s got little Xenomorph eggs baked into it.” Both of her parents look at her in confusion, prompting her to tell them, “I’m kidding, obviously!”

            Zara shrugs and gets back to her feast. Colin lets out a bored laugh and adds, “We figured.”

            Kate walks over to gently hold Victoria by her waist, and asks, “So how’s November sounding? For the wedding?”

            Colin tells her, “It sounds perfectly. Where are you guys looking to hold it?”

            “There’s this church that Kate’s family always goes to. We’ll go there.” The two girls smile at each other, blushing as they do so.

            Victoria’s parents beam at this affection, adding, “Perfect… How about Thanksgiving Day? I don’t think we’re too busy then. What do you think? Too tacky or what?”


 

            “It feels like a warm hug!” The Other Max hugs a black blazer - one of Jefferson’s - as Dr. Court steps around the containment cell. “I guess that’s just the vibe he always gave off.”

            Looking at Max’s wall of photographs, Court tells her, “I wouldn’t call that creepy fuck ‘warm’ if he paid me a thousand dollars. Glad he’s dead.”

            The Other Max squints at Court, offended: “To appreciate art is to appreciate the past. And I always appreciated his lessons.”

            The Other Max looks at her wall of photographs. Photos of the past. Photos of Max in the Dark Room. She thinks back to one of his lessons: “ You can’t just throw a few subjects around and expect a cohesive style or theme. ” She says to the wall, “RIP, Jefferson” before grabbing the photos off the wall and dropping them onto her bed.

            “This is gonna blow some minds.” The Other Max reaches into a bucket full of sewing needles with one hand as she opens up the jacket with her other.

            “Piss people off.” She sews one photograph - a scared Max glaring at Jefferson’s camera with pink lights illuminating the Dark Room - into the jacket.

            “The right people.” Another photograph - Max and Chloe discovering the body of Rachel Amber in the Junkyard. She sews it into the jacket too.

            “People who-” A photograph of Kate in the Dark Room. She freezes up and blinks. “No.” She puts the photograph aside and grabs another photograph of Max, lying on the floor of the Dark Room.

            “People who will know.” Max picks up the jacket and tries it on. A surprisingly comfortable fit. As she tugs on it, she tells herself, “Just gotta take a chance…” She puts the camera helmet on her head. “ Always take the shot.


 

SEPTEMBER

 

             BANG . A bullet enters the forehead of a print-out of Nathan Prescott’s sneering, smiling, smug face.

            Chloe jumps up in the air at the sound of the shot and high-fives Victoria, telling her, “Nice one!”

            Victoria returns the high-five and says, “Thanks.” She aims the gun at a picture of Damon Merrick and pulls the trigger on it with a BANG . It hits the print-out in the cheek, much to Chloe’s delight.

            Sitting on a couch, meditating, with Naton next to him, K’mai states, “They’re so much louder here than in the games we play!”

            Victoria turns to him and says, “Right?” Still aiming her gun at the targets, she pulls the trigger with a BANG . Except she isn’t aiming at the targets; she’s aiming at a rusty barrel. The bullet ricochets around the Junkyard with a PING PANG PENG before flying into the sky.

            Chloe grabs Victoria’s gun and smacks her upside the head: “Dude, watch it when you’re shooting!”

            Victoria freezes as she realizes just what could’ve happened. Warmly and apologetically, she says, “Sorry…” She looks at Naton and K’mai, both freaked out a little bit, and tells them nervously, “Master Godho should really look into training you guys on this stuff.” Victoria sighs. “Okay, bad time to joke. I’m sorry.”


 

            Coldly yet patiently, Bedlam tells his minion, “All is forgiven, Tangi…”

            Standing before a blackboard with maps of Arcadia Bay, Culmination, Beaver Creek and the Agency’s Missouri Headquarters is the evil tattoo… thing himself: Bedlam. He is armed with a small branch, which he is hitting the board with as he makes his points. “Back to the plan. We will have two teams. One for Independence. And one for Arcadia…”

            Bedlam snaps his fingers next to his temple, adding, “Alas, I am getting ahead of myself. We need to focus on getting our supplies… for the party.”


 

OCTOBER

 

            A brisk breeze flows through Kate’s apartment as Max and Chloe walk in, dressed as Supergirl and Batgirl. Sitting inside at a circular table are Joyce, Rose, Rachel, Zara, Sandra, Victoria and Kate. The latter two are wearing devil horns and a golden halo, respectively.

            Max holds up a paper bag and proclaims to her friends, “We had to beat down a Vampire-Nazi Max for this thing!” Everybody gives her a “Woo” collectively.

            Kate jokingly asks while holding her rosary out to Max, “No bites?”

            Max howls into the sky before laughing and telling her, “Nada! But these fangs are good for one thing.” She pulls out a sharp fang from her hoodie and stabs it into the cork of the bottle in the bag. POP opens the green bottle of Mellow Moscato wine as mist pours out from it. “You’re okay with this.”

            As everyone claps for her, Victoria asks, “Pass it along, Max!” She extends a hand to take the bottle and Max hands it to her. She pours the red into two cups - one for herself and one for Kate. She hands the second cup to her fiance and says with a smile, “Here’s to us, Katie! And here’s to all of you guys!”

            The two toast their glasses and down their drinks happily. A buzz overcomes them both and Kate remarks gleefully, “Oh my God. Just like old times.”

            Both Kate and Victoria fall over onto the table with a soft slam. Out like lights.

            Chloe looks at the two, looks around, pokes Victoria’s shoulder, and asks of them, “Guys?”


 

            Blackwell Academy. It’s cool, serene, empty and at peace. Victoria and Kate - dressed in their old Blackwell outfits - step out of the Prescott Dorms as a blue butterfly flutters in front of them and lands on Kate’s nose. Victoria states cautiously, “This isn’t the future. It’s Blackwell…” Another familiar face walks past them: Samuel, the kooky custodian himself. “And also Samuel.”

            Kate waves at him, saying happily, “Hi, Samuel!”

            Samuel smiles at them as a squirrel scuttles into the Arcadia Bay wilderness. “Hello, graduates. What brings you back to Blackwell?”

            Victoria looks around, frantically seeking an answer off the top of her head. She says one: “Uh… Nostalgia?”

            Samuel nods at this and points, “Ah, good choice of cider. I prefer the Surging Champagne myself.”

            Both Kate and Victoria freeze, confused. Victoria opens her mouth to respond before stopping and trying again with, “I- How do you- Okay?” Samuel nods at them again before grabbing a can of white paint and marching off elsewhere. “Bye.”

            The two lovers walk to a bench where a mallard is honking at a doe. The mallard rushes away into the wilderness too, with the doe following closely behind. Victoria looks at Kate and smiles at her: “It’s so peaceful here. Think it’s post-final-battle-whatever?”

            “It isn’t the future, right?”

            “And yet, it isn’t the past… Or maybe it is?”

            A new voice, from a wily and weird young lady, says, “It’s post. And pre.” The pink Moth - Dolly’s spirit animal - flutters onto Victoria’s shoulder and nibbles at her crimson cashmere sweater. “It’ll all make sense later.”

            Victoria glares at her to meet her “face” - white wings with four gray eyes - and she angrily asks, “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

            The Moth flutters away from Victoria, still chowing down on a tiny patch of fabric. “Yes. And No. Lots of ‘ands’, but that’s what happens with a topsy-turvy-timeline.” The Moth flies into the air, away from Blackwell but within Arcadia Bay. She tells them, “Be seein’ you soooon!”

            Victoria sighs and crosses her arms. “Well, this just got worse…” She looks at Kate and hugs her, a bit afraid of the future with this new knowledge they have. “Let’s just sit here then ‘til we wake up, boo-thang.”


 

            “Boo!”, yells Tangi, the Happy Clown, as he presses his face against the back window of an SUV.

            Inside the car screams two elderly lovers embracing each other in a makeout session, dressed as skeletons: “AAAAAAAAAAH!”

            Tangi curtsies for them, giddily adding, “And a happy Halloween to you too!” He runs off down the suburban streets of Redding, California to his Enforcer acquaintances. He asks of them as they look into their candy bags - stolen, of course - “What do we got?”

            Damon Merrick runs his hands through his bag and comments what he has: “Some Laffy Taffy, Choco-Crisp up the wahzoo, Hawt Dawg Gummies… Strudels?”

            Elmer grabs these Strudels and glares at them gluttonously. “Can’t complain!”

            Lord Laundry eats a bag of candy corn whole just as a homeless man stares at him in astonishment. Spotting him, he roars a loud “RAAAAWR!”

            The homeless man grimaces at the supervillain. “You don’t scare me!” He pulls a notebook out of his jacket. In it are sketches and sayings scribbled in French. He recites one: “ Quitte cet endroit, Démon, car j'ai nos dieux en moi! Your powers are powerless against our Gods!”

            Elmer looks around and tells the homeless man, while chowing down on a toaster strudel, “I ‘ave da power a’ shpiky ‘air.”

            Suddenly, out of the blue, sirens blare and a police officer yells, “FREEZE!”

            With a gun drawn on them, the Enforcers look at the cop and raise their hands. Tangi remarks, “‘Freeze’. Heh, bud, I’ve been tryin’ to go cold turkey!” Swiftly, he pulls a turkey out of his candy bag. “Give it a try!” He throws the turkey at the cop, causing him to recoil as it begins to tick tock because of the apparent bomb within.

            The Enforcers run to a sports car and hop in. Damon demands, “Start the fuckin’ shit, start the shit!” At the driver’s seat, Elmer revs up the engines and drives off into the night, leaving the cop in the dust. “YEAH!”

            Tangi looks out the window and waves the cop goodbye while yelling, “Byyyyyye!” He ducks back into the car and laughs amongst his friends. He tells them. “You guys rock! Soon though, we will rule.”

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER

 

            A white gown made of cashmere, as it always is for Victoria. She combs her hair and clears her throat. Feels funny in there. She thinks to herself, “ This is it, Vic. The big moment. You will be Katie’s wife. No bad guys to get in the way… well, Chloe might do something stupid, but nothing bad. ” She pauses and shrugs her shoulders with a smile. " Naaaah, this is our day. It's her day… oh, Katie. "

            A knock at the door is heard and Colin steps inside. He asks, “Ready, Vic?”

            Victoria turns to see her father and grins before telling him,  “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

            Colin loops his arm around hers as she grabs a bouquet of red roses from before her mirror. The two walk to the doors leading into the Main Hall of the Latter Day Church of Christ’s Will. Two choir boys open the door for them, leading into the church. Inside sat friends and family alike, a number combined all too numerous to list. But at the front was Kate, accompanied by Richard. She too is dressed in a white gown with glitter on the dress, shimmering like an angel as the sun shines on her. As Victoria draws nearer, she exchanges smiles with Kate. As she draws nearer, both Max and Zara take a few shots of the ceremony with professional cameras shipped in directly from the Chase Space.

            Victoria reaches the front of the aisle. Both Colin and Richard step away from their daughters as the two lovers stand before one another, smiling behind their veils.

            The priest, Father Lawrence, speaks joyously as everyone in the aisles takes their seats: "We are gathered here today to celebrate the unity and eternal friendship present within these two young lovers, to celebrate how thankful we are to be here for these two, and to celebrate the holy matrimony of which these two will spend the rest of their lives together. You may exchange your vows.”

            “Kate. My sweet Kate. You’ve been the light of my life in the times that were darkest for me. Times where I had to face the past and my many, many mistakes, and you helped me be better than I ever was. Than I ever will be, maybe. I’d like to spend every remaining moment of my life by your side, and I’d love for you to be with me in the rest of mine.”

            “Victoria, you’re the golden goose of my life. The person who has been with me through the trying times we live in, and across several state lines. Although we met on a very, very rocky beginning, everything after that has been simply the best. You’ve inspired me and my view on the world, that people can change and be good. And for that, I’m happy to be with you for the rest of my life.”

            Father Lawrence asks, “Kathryn Beverly Marsh, do you take Miss Chase to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

            Kate smiles at Victoria and tells her, “I do.”

            Father Lawrence asks, “Victoria Marib-”

            Victoria starts clutching her throat, her face growing blue as she does so. Suddenly, she falls to her knees as Father Lawrence rushes to her side and asks, “Miss Chase?”

            Kate holds Victoria’s hands and looks her in the face, panicked: “Vic?”

            In the crowd, Max realizes what is happening, remarking, “Oh, god.”

            Victoria’s eyes widen as she spits out a pink Moth. The pink Moth. She yells angrily at it as it writhes on the floor, “AGH!”

            The Moth takes flight, screaming gleefully, “YESSSS! FREEDOMMMMMMM!”

            Chloe squints at the Moth and says, “The fuck?”

            Kate rubs Victoria’s back and asks her, “Are you okay?”

            Victoria opens her mouth and sticks her tongue out, seeing that it is covered in pink fur. Quickly, she wipes a lot of it away with her hands. With her tongue mostly cleared, she tells her, “I’m fine.”

            The Moth flaps her wings in Victoria’s face and Kate aims a finger-gun at the villain. The Moth sees “Thanks for the ride, Vicky!” As the Moth flies into the ceiling of the Church to escape through the belltower, Victoria flips her off with two middle fingers. 

            Kate helps Victoria rise back up to her feet. Father Lawrence speaks to the crowd and the brides, telling them, “I apologise for the inconvenience, everyone! May we continue?”

            Victoria looks at him with exhaustion. She says, “Yes please.”

            Father Lawrence asks, “Ah. So, Victoria Maribeth Chase, do you take Miss Marsh to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

            Looking around for any sign of other threats and spotting none, Victoria blurts out quickly and happily, “Yes-yes-I-do-I-do-yes-I-do! I do!”

            “If anyone objects to this here marriage, then speak now or forever hold your peace.” Silence… Good. “Then, it is my honor to pronounce you two wedded eternally! You may kiss the bride!”

            Victoria and Kate lift up their veils and run into each other’s arms, kissing as the sun beams down on them. Everyone applauds and everyone cheers as the two wives smile at each other in between kisses.

            Looking to the crowd, Victoria tosses her bouquet to them. It flies through the air into the hands of Chloe Price. She looks at the bouquet, looks at Max, and smiles.


 

            Holding out a printout of the wedding invitation for his Enforcer friends to see, Tangi jokingly remarks, “Mawwiage! Mawwiage bwought dem togethah… today.”

            Elmer lets out a laugh. “Good one, Tangi!”

            Damon looks at it closely and claims, “We shoulda been there. We’d’ve had ‘em all in one place. One place to weed ‘em out!”

            Bedlam remarks to his associates, “As delicious as that sounds, marriage is a holy temple that even I do not interfere in. Only a soulless monster would do such a thing.”

            SLAM opens the front door to the Enforcers’ lair. “I’M BAAAAAACK!” In flies the Moth.

            The Enforcers stand to confront her and ask, “Who are you?”

            “It’s me! Dolly! I’m my own spirit animal now!”

            Damon asks, “We can do that?”

            Elmer asks, “Yo, what’s mine?”

            The Moth flutters around Elmer’s spiky head of hair and tells him, “I dunno. Porcupine?” She moves onto Bedlam and lands on his ribboned shoulder. “Good to be back, boss man Bedlam.”

            Bedlam looks at the Moth. “I sensed you weren’t wholly dead.”

            “Oh, I was dead. But I had an ace up my sleeve. Or rather, down Victoria Chase’s throat. But now, with the gang almost all together, it’s time to go for the jugular.” The Moth flutters around the room sinisterly.

            Bedlam claps his thorn-and-ribbon fingers together and says, "Indeed. Time to initiate Operation: Y.E.S."

            As the Moth flies past Tangi, the clown thinks to himself. “Good joke.

            The Moth tells him mentally, “Thanks, Tangster.


 

            Sitting in a limousine, Victoria and Kate plop kiss upon kiss on one another. As Victoria nuzzles Kate’s neck, she tells her, “I like this.” She drops a kiss on Kate’s forehead and adds, “Fuck the end of the world. We’ll live forever.”

            Kate lies her head on Victoria's chest as the two begin dozing off to sleep together, hands held in marriage. “Damn right, Vic.”

Chapter Text

DECEMBER

Days Until Christmas: 12

 

             Vrr vrr . Vrr vrr .

            Sean Prescott is calling from his Agency office in Independence, Missouri.

            Colin Chase answers as he boredly paces around the Chase Space after hours.

            “Hello, Colin. It’s me.”

            “I know it’s you. What’s up?”

            “I would like to invite you and the girls over to Missouri for a little party: The Agency of Metahuman Containment’s Happy Holiday Bash! Please RSVPASAP.”

            Colin smiles, although his old friend cannot see. “Well, consider us RSVP’d, old buddy!”

            Sean laughs, telling him, “Excellent! Be seeing you soon!” Sean hangs up and Colin dials up his daughter.


             Vrr vrr . Vrr vrr . Vrr vrr . Vrr vrr . “Vic, I think that’s your phone.” Kate looks over at her wife as she lies in a pile of blankets in their apartment. Vrr vrr . Travelling across two countries - Vrr vrr - has drained her. A lot. Vrr vrr . “Victoria.” Kate gets up - Vrr - and grabs the phone as the call stops. “Victorious Maxima.” She walks up to Victoria and sighs, “Urgh… Up and at ‘em, sleepyhead.” Kate sits next to Victoria and shakes her back, stating, “Your phone is ringing.”

            Victoria awakens and drowsily asks, “Oh? Lemme get it.” She takes her phone into her hands and scrolls through the Caller ID to see her father’s name. She calls him back and answers, “Yello?”

            “Hi, sweetie, how are you doing?”

            Victoria rubs her eyes as she lies her head on Kate’s thighs. “Perfectly fine! Me and Katie just came back from our honeymoon. It was top-notch!” The two girls look at each other and laugh.

            Colin laughs with them and says, “Glad to see you enjoyed them together! Say, would you be interested in coming along with us to Missouri in, like, a week or so?”

            Victoria looks at Kate, considering her answer with her in mind: “That depends. What for?”

            “Sean Prescott has invited us to a party at his work’s base!”

            The smile drains from Victoria’s face, it drains into a sort of frown. “Yeah, no.”

            Colin asks, understandingly, “How come?”

            “Because the Agency is a fascistic gang of braindead stormtroopers tasked with subjugating innocent metahumans solely for being themselves? And Sean Prescott is somehow the lesser evil, but still the bigger evil because he’s Sean flippin’ Prescott?”

            Silence befalls the phone before Colin sheepishly continues, “That… may be true. But they did save you! And this can be a good chance to boost your career! Meeting all these rich people with connectionsssss. Wooooh.”

            Victoria lets out a giggle at her father’s ghost impression. Still, she has to lay down the law: “Sorry, Dad, but the answer’s gonna be a hard no. Maybe if Kate comes, but even I doubt that.”

            “It appears to be only us.”

            “Not even your bestest bud Richard? Maybe he can speak to some… stamp people? The people who sell stamps?”

            Colin sighs almost sadly. It would be good for Richard’s little business of selling stamps himself: “No.”

            “Aw. Then, the answer’s no. After that, though, we can always do something together.”

            “Okay, we won’t press you on it. We will, however, press you on that post-Christmas shindig. Good night, sweetie!”

            Her father’s endearingness brings a smile to her face as he hangs up the call. “Good night, Dad. Tell Mom I said ‘good night’ too.” She sighs and closes her eyes.

            Kate asks of Victoria, “Is everything okay?”

            Victoria shrugs her shoulders nonchalantly: “Yeah, just my Dad being my Dad. Business as usual.”

            Kate strokes Victoria’s eyes with a glowing palm and looks at her gently. “Mind if I ask about it?”

            “The Agency are having a Christmas party. Not interested.” The two roll their eyes and scoff at the idea of a Sean Prescott party. Victoria adds, “Besides, we’ve got bigger problems than… him.”


Days Until Christmas: 11

 

            Arcadia Bay is still a growing little reborn baby, with its old ghosts coming around to haunt. One such phantasm is the new and improved Pacific Steve’s Famous Crab diner. It snows outside, but inside, a full-mouthed Max remarks to her three closest friends, with her maw stuffed with hushpuppies, “Me and Chloe ushed t’come hur’ all da time! Dez are delish!”

            Stifling her own laughter, Chloe asks her, “Don’t choke.” Max laughs and Chloe turns her attention to the married couple across from them: “So how was the honeymoon?”

            Victoria casually tells her friends, “Hawaii and Tokyo were lovely. You guys should visit sometime.” Kate, leaning on Victoria’s chest, nods along.

            Chloe says, “My old Max went once, on a fun little solo journey. I heard it was nice.”

            Max looks Chloe in the eyes and tells her, “We can always go.”

            “Deal.” The two shake on it, prompting Victoria to let out a laugh.

            Max turns her attention to Victoria and Kate, and asks, “So Sean Prescott’s throwing a Christmas party? Because of course he is.”

            Cutting into a red lobster, Victoria explains, “My parents wanted me to go. And they seemed super cheery about it. Like more than usual.”

            Taking one of Max’s many hushpuppies, Chloe asks, “Are you going?”

            Victoria lightly recoils with a smile. “Pfft! No! Never. I mean, I’d much rather be partying with Katie than fighting an evil tattoo man, but it wouldn’t be Prescott’s party.” Max shrugs and Victoria squints at her for it. “Wha- why are you shrugging like that?”

            “Well… Fate’s a funny thing.” Max drinks out of her can of Sprite while smirking at Victoria.

            Victoria sighs and places her palm on her forehead. “Oh, for- seriously? How does it happen?” Max continues smirking, prompting a groan from Victoria. She crosses her arms and asks, “Great… Does Katie come along?”

            Max’s eyes dart around the diner before she relents to say, “Yes.”

            “Cool. That’s all that matters…” Victoria looks down at Kate, looks up at Max and Chloe, and looks at her lobster to eat a piece of it with the fork in her hand.


Days Until Christmas: 10

 

            The belle of the ball himself, Sean Prescott, stands around the Ballroom of the Agency’s HQ as his minions - Dr. Court and the Jumper - decorate the place with their assorted - and allowed - metahuman abilities. Overseeing Court’s placement of a banner from the ground, Sean advises her, “Little bit to the left! Little more! Little more! Perfecto!” He puts his hands at ease and walks over to two soldiers setting up seats for tables. Wrapping his arms around the soldiers’ shoulders, he remarks with a sleazy smile, “This place’ll be in tip-top shape by next week!”

            Sitting up against a banister from above, Court tells him, “Indeed.”

            On a bowery below her, the Jumper yells to their boss, “Hey, Mr. Prescott! There’s a big bugs nest up here!”

            Sean hums before telling him, “Turn it into a parking lot.”

            The Jumper gives him a confused, “What?”

            Sean scoffs. “T-take it down.”

            The Jumper blips away for one second and returns in the next, armed with a broom. He swats at the nest, prompting a flurry of pink moths to attack him. He yells, “Ah! Fucking moths!”, and they begin to disperse into the halls below, avoiding Sean.

            Court adds, “I saw a nest too!”

            Sean strokes his chin, angered at this infestation. “I’ll have a crew do some sweeps. Wouldn’t want any unwanted guests…” Sean lets out an evil laugh under his breath, much to the confusion of his workers around him. "What, am- am I wrong?"

            One of the soldiers hops to his feet to salute the Prescott patriarch, telling him, “No, sir.”

            “Good… I'm gonna grab a ginger ale from the cooler.” Sean steps aside to one of the coolers and does as he says, grabbing a cold one and letting it open with a kssh and a fizzzz .

Chapter Text

Days Until Christmas: 9

 

            A sports car, packed with supervillains working under the poisonous Bedlam, drives through the afternoon woods of Oregon and down snowy roads. Santa may be watching, but the wicked and the naughty never rest either way.

            Chilling in the front passenger’s seat is Elmer, listening to the Christmas tunes as they play on the radio. Bep-bep bep bep bep-bep bep . Elmer heeds the call to hear Bedlam speak on speakerphone.

            “Hello, boys. Your first mission is to go to the small town of Beaver Creek and meet with an arms dealer; his name is Morris and he is currently waiting for us at the Kitty Klub. Having made deals with the Agency of Metahuman Containment, he’ll own some supplies for the party that Sean Prescott is throwing - namely, a hard-light forcefield generator. It is capable of withstanding the force of the military’s most powerful weapons. ‘Tis important we acquire this machine.”

            Tangi salutes the phone as he drives the car, much to his friends’ fear as he becomes distracted for just two seconds: “Aye, sir! We shall meet - ah - with this Morris and we’ll get his shit.”

            Damon Merrick adds, “And we’ll pay him.”

            Tangi proclaims, “And we’ll pay him!” He focuses back on the road fully and says, “Okay, bye bye, luv ya! Mwah!” He hangs up for Elmer and steps on the gas, drifting around the deserted town. It is peaceful and empty. It is an early night for these winter days anyways.

            The sports car approaches the Kitty Klub. Fluorescent pink lights shine upon the villains as they step out of the car and into the cold. Out of the cold and into the Klub.

            Up front at the desk is a middle-aged miss who asks of the quartet, “Are you boys here to have a good time?”

            Damon tells her with a glinted smirk, “Maybe later. We’re here to see Morris and his boys.”

            A weasley voice answers from within the venue, “Someone say ‘Morris’?” The voice belongs to a man who steps out from inside: Sheldon Pike. He looks at the villains, and he looks at his old friend, now ribboned up and very much alive. “Damon?”

            The former drug dealer chuckles and walks over to Pike to give him a hug: “Sheldon, you devilish dealer, you!” He feels the frozen nature of Sheldon’s current being and adds casually, “Oh, yeah, I’m back.”

            “They said Bowers killed you…”

            Damon shrugs his shoulders and, still holding Sheldon in his hug, tells him, “I put myself back together. Like always. Weird world, my guy. But we’re weirdin’ it up as a crew.”

            Sheldon laughs and nods along. “Damn straight. So, Morris?”

            The hug breaks apart and Sheldon pats his old pal on the shoulder, telling him, “Yes. Let’s go, bro.”

            Pike leads the villains into the Klub where the pink light has spread immensely. Strippers do their dances and entertain their admirers. The bartenders dole out drinks to the derelicts of Beaver Creek’s late night life, as well as two seemingly rugged out-of-towners. The villains enter a backroom where two thugs stand between two dancers, who stand between the table where Morris and his prize awaits the Enforcers.

            Morris asks, crossing his hands together, “What’s up, Sheldon?”

            Tangi interjects with a grin, “We’re here to make a deal you can’t refuse.”

            Back on the open bar, the out-of-town duo laugh amongst each other. Behind their masks `of muck are the power couple of Max and Chloe. Max lets out a laugh that would make any pirate envious: “Ahahaha! Chloe… Oh my god, you’re a fucking boss! Never, EVER change.”

            Chloe shrugs at this response to her story, telling Max, “I do as I please, Max! Just like that… and this.” She moves in for a kiss and the two embrace briefly.

            Between drunken snickers and hiccups, Max tells her, “Chloe, ohmigod Chloe, you gonna marry this one day!”

            Chloe smiles at Max and looks her in the eyes to tell her, “Goddamn right I am.”

            The bartender passes the duo two tall glasses of water and Max says to her girlfriend, "Drink up, buttercup." They chug it with ease. Max shakes her head and slaps herself in the face to snap back to reality. “I mean, let’s… let’s stay on task first. We won’t get them… but we’ll get them by surprise. Fate wills it! Let’s get them… Bad guys, right?”

            Chloe makes two finger guns and fires at Max before turning her aim to the backroom where the baddies lie in discussion: “Bad guys. Let’s go beat their shit.”

            Seeing that Chloe can see with two eyes open, Max adjusts the eyepatch that should be covering her right eye and puts it back onto place. “And make sure to keep the disguise on.”

            Chloe burps and adds, “I know, I know.” The two press on to find their foes and fight them.

            Inside the backroom, the Enforcers sit by Morris and look upon his treasure: a silver orb with inactive LED lights built into it. It is held up by four rectangular prisms built into the briefcase that holds it. Morris explains, “This baby can cover the length of… ehhh, two… three… football fields.”

            The Enforcers look at each other and say together, “Dayum.”

            Morris chuckles with a squint to his eyes: “Dayum indeed. Name your rate.”

            Damon pulls out a heavy silver briefcase of his own. “It’ll be big. How’s… Bedlam gave us… this briefcase?”

            Morris opens it to see a green glow emanate from within and exit throughout the backroom. He grins with the green shining on his face. He dare not touch it just yet. He applauds the absent Bedlam and tells the Enforcers, “With that much, you want a pack of gum too? Take it n’ go!” He hands the Enforcers the briefcase with the forcefield generator and laughs. “Ride the waves that this baby’ll generate.”

            The pirates waltz into the backroom, feigning drunkness with their method acting, and the short one, who certainly isn’t Max, asks, “Care to spare this Christmas season?”

            Elmer looks around and asks his friends and associates, “Who let the pirates in?”

            The taller definitely-not-Chloe-Price pirate tells him with an arm around his shoulder, “We’re not pirates, we don’t steal!”

            The smaller totally-not-Max-Caulfield pirate adds, with another arm around the shoulder, “All we want is some change, y’feel?”

            Damon crosses his arms and states, “Rhyming? That’s new too.”

            Tangi laughs while holding the forcefield briefcase close to his chest: “Shit, got you all rhymed out!”

            The not-Chloe pirate exclaims, “You betcha, Tangi! That’s how it can be!”

            Tangi’s smile leaves his face. The Happy Clown realizes swiftly, “… How do you know my… YOU TWO.”

            The certainly-not-Chloe pirate asks, clearly confused, “Me? Me who?”

            Her not-girlfriend, not-Max, asks, “Us?”

            Tangi, now a rather flustered clown, answers, “You know- g-get her!” Lord Laundry flies at the two girls, tearing away the pirate disguises covering their faces. From within her coat, Max pulls out a metal poker - with a blunted blade - and pushes away the Lord. Tangi turns to Morris and tells him happily, “Pleasuredoinbusinesswithyaaaa!” He runs out of the backroom as his Enforcer friends follow behind him.

            Morris grabs a glass of whiskey and raises it for him. “You’re welcome.”

            Sheldon follows the group into the main area of the Klub where the fight has spilled into. He sees something else about the fight: That girl… The one who spilled his beer all those years ago! Angrily, he yells at Chloe, “You spilled my beer!”

            As Chloe punches Damon Merrick in the face, she turns to Sheldon and spitefully tells him, “Oh my god. Get over it!” She hops to her feet, grabs a barstool and throws it at Pike’s sneering face, knocking him to the ground. She smiles at this and reflects upon it: “Spanner in the works, baby.” Quickly, the duo charge out into the night.

            Outside, the Enforcers hop into their sports car proudly and drive off with Tangi at the captain’s wheel. Elmer urges him on, “Go, go, go!” They drive away with their claim, leaving Max and Chloe in the dust.

            In the car, Damon wipes his sweaty forehead. He says, filled with adrenaline, “That was close! As! Shit!”

            On the street, Max pulls out her cell phone, so as to phone a friend: “You’re up, Dan.”

            Smiling like an idiot, Tangi asks, “What’s the quickest way home…” Lord Laundry pulls Damon’s phone out of his pocket and shows him a map, leading home. And also distracting him. “Take a left on Redleg Lane, drive for five hundred feet, turn right onto Mantle and Asteroid, we’re right on track! This calls… for MUSIC!” Tangi claps his hands… and no music. He sighs and puts on the radio, which plays some of Two Door Cinema Club’s single, “Something Good Can Work”. Tangi sings along as he blasts down Redleg Lane:

            “ Let’s make this happen, girl!

We gotta-show-the-world-that-something-good-can-work

And-it-can-work-for-you for yoooou, and you-know-that-it-will,

            Tangi looks at his friends and demands, “Eh, c’mon, sing along!” They don’t sing as the song continues, much to his chargin. So he does:

            “ Let’s get this started, girl,

We’re-moving-up, we’re-moving-up

It’s been a lot to change, but yooou will always get what you wa -”

            “TANGI!” Tangi looks forward as he drifts right onto Mantle and Android.

            Right onto the path of a young mother with a stalled car.

            Everyone - the Enforcers and the mother alike - scream “AAAAAAAAAH!” as collison seems inevitable.

            Until it isn’t.

            The car is pulled back, away from the woman, by what would be a hook. Except there is no hook - no tangible one anyways. Elmer asks, as an airbag rests up against his face, “The hell? Who did- I- what?”

            Behind the sports car, a young boy in red superhero armor and a red wolf mask stands with his open palm outstretched. He yells to the mother, “You’re safe, Chris’s mom! I mean, Mrs. Eriksen! The Superwolf is here to save the day!”

            Damon rolls his eyes, annoyed at this masked avenger’s appearance: “Oh, Christ’s sake.”

            A blond man marches out of a nearby house, armed with an iron baseball bat. He asks of the mother, “Emma, are you okay?”

            The two embrace and Emily tells her husband, “I’m fine, Charlie! Let’s go home!”

            “Whoa, hey, no need to run, you two!” As the two run off, they are blocked by Damon and Lord Laundry.

            Charles stands in front of his wife, ready to take down the zombie and his dirty laundry. Suddenly, the two get blasted away by an invisible burst of energy.

            The Superwolf runs along, chasing Tangi and Elmer into the forests nearby. Damon and the Lord follow but Daniel isn’t concerned with them just yet. They’re meant to get away anyways, so a headstart is in order. He turns to the Eriksens - husband Charles and wife Emily - and advises to them, “Stay careful! Ooh, and take care of Captain Spirit! He’s my friend!”

            Entering the nearby woods, the villains run and Tangi yells, “RUN!”

            At their frosty feet, the villains spot branches gently bursting through the ground, letting themselves be seen only those Bedlam wishes: the baddies. They speak in whispers, “Follow the thornssss…”

            In the distance, Daniel yells in the darkness, “Get back heeeeere!”

            “Follow the thornssss…”

            “We heard ya!”

            Within several seconds, the villains vanish into the night, out of Daniel’s line of sight. Bedlam’s branches vanish, not to be seen or followed by unwanted eyes “Gone.”


Days Until Christmas: 8

 

            The pieces are moving back in Arcadia Bay, on Overlook Avenue with Kate and Victoria packing their travel bags in the wee early morning hours. Victoria asks, dressed in puffy winter clothing, “You’re all packed, Katie?”

            Kate nods and tells her with a confident smile, “I’m packed.” She too is dressed for the winter, just as Victoria is.

            Victoria steps over to her wife and kisses her on the forehead, saying, “Good. Now, just to-” She looks to her car keys in the kitchen and sees Max and Chloe, arms crossed and smiling in front of the counter with the keys on them. She smiles at the two and asks cautiously, “Heyyyy. How’s it hanging?”

            Max explains, “We just got back from Beaver Creek. The bad guys got away but we got a hint of their plan for Christmas.”

            Victoria hums along, adding, “Yeah. Nice…” She looks at the duo, and she looks at Kate. And she sighs, stroking her forehead nervously. “Holy shit, Christmas is almost a week away.”

            Max nods, seeing Victoria’s upset at the events unfolding. “Now seems like a good time to get away from it all. Me and Chloe are working on a plan to get evacuation underway. With a death god, things could get messy.” Max looks behind her friends where she sees their bags. “You’re waiting for one of us to comment on the bags, aren’t you?”

            Victoria looks at Kate again and laughs along. She stutters as Kate shrugs her shoulders: “Kinda, w- we wanted t-”

            Chloe grabs Victoria’s keys and walks over to her, telling her with faux frustration, “‘Whoa, hey, how dare you run awaaaay. I thought we were all frieeeends. Raaaaah.’ There, now that we’ve got all the angsty arguing out of the way, just tell us what’s up.”

            Victoria is shaking and Kate is holding her hand, soothing her troubles. “I’m scared of all this armageddon shit. I don’t want to be a part of it, and fate can eat a dick if it gets pissed!”

            Chloe sighs and smiles at Victoria, telling her, “Hey, you’re not entirely wrong about fate. Fuck… them?” Chloe hands Victoria her keys and the pixie-cut girl graciously accepts them.

            Max steps forward with Chloe and their friends. She adds, “I get it. And, y’know what? I don’t blame you for a sec-ond. Where are you guys headed?”

            Kate jumps in for Victoria, to let her take a breather, “Uhhh… New York. We want to go there and have adventures, live life, maybe come back.”

            “Or settle down.”

            Kate snaps her fingers and caresses the back of Victoria’s head. “That too.”

            Max grasps Victoria’s shoulder and smirks at her. She informs the two sternly and warmly - a mix of the two - “You’ll pass through… A lot of states. That’ll be tough. But pretty. I bet it’d make a nice photo op, some nice subjects to draw. Maybe a bit boring. But beautiful either way. You’ll reach the Big Apple before Christmas, even if you take your time, and also before… well, the Agency party.”

            Under her breath, Victoria grumbles, “Shit.”

            Max puts her hands up and adds, “Hey, I’m not saying not to go on your adventure. You two should enjoy yourselves. Please do. And please be careful.”

            Victoria hugs Max and Chloe, much to their surprises. “You too.” She motions to her bags and both her and Kate grab them. They prepare for the door. Victoria looks back at her friends and says with a wave, “Au revoir.”

            Victoria steps out of the door with the keys and the bags in her hands. Kate tells the two with a joyful smile and a nod, “Good luck.”

            Both Max and Chloe march along to hug Kate, embracing her. “Thank you, Kate.”

            Within minutes, the wives are gone - out of the apartment - down to the lobby - out into the streets - and into Victoria’s new car.

            Within several seconds, the wives drive away, headed for the East. Off to places unknown!

Chapter Text

Days Until Christmas: 7

 

            Inside the indoors theater of Blackwell Academy, a mass of roughly two dozen red seats have been taken up by the friendly faces whom Max and Chloe have done their best to know.

            Warren Graham asks of Rog, the pigeon soldier formerly associated with the Agency of Metahuman Containment, “So how’s being a bird doing you?”

            “I just laid my first eggs! Didn’t seem like the big deal that the ladies make it out to be.” A paper ball hits Rog in the face, knocking him down a peg and into his seat. The shooter, Dana Ward, grins smugly at her marksmanship before turning to converse with her old friend, Arcadia Bay reporter Juliet Watson..

            Below them, Naton the Normal-Man, evolved past barbarism, says to the leaders of the Mars-based Merry Marauders, Captain Starsight and First Mate Noctarious, as he holds a flare gun, “This is a good gun. I like it!”

            Starsight smiles without a face, instead his bulbous eye’s iris enlarging, “I betcha do, warrior.” He pulls out a gun of his own: a red revolver shotgun with antimatter rounds. “Get a load of this.”

            Naton’s eyes shimmer as he gazes upon the gun. Barbarism returns to him only briefly as he exclaims, “Me want it!”

            Starsight turns to Noctarious and the two shrug amongst each other. The pupil pirate looks at Naton and tells him gleefully, “You gets it in exchange for yer gun! Merry Christ-Mass, as you humans put it.” He hands his interstellar gun to Naton in exchange for the earthly gun.

            Below them, Daniel Diaz the elder affably asks of Jumbo next to him, “Wooooah. You play Uno on the phone tooooo?”

            The scarfed superhero timidly tells the crimson crusader, barely turning to look at the boy, “Of course.” He quickly returns to his game of online Uno on his phone while also chugging a bottle of a baby brand’s chocolate milk, meant to improve growth and bone strength.

            Looking past this oddity, Daniel probes further with, “What’s your gamertag? Mine is Lobo4Life.”

            Jumbo sighs, wiping milk from his maw. “GBiggs201.”

            “39KMAll.” Daniel looks past Jumbo to see the young monk K’mai, with his phone on Uno too. He says, “I play Uno too, guys.”

            Daniel pulls out his phone and tells the two with a smug smile behind his red wolf’s mask, “Let’s game.” And just like that, the three get on the same game and innocuously play as one.

            As the crowd gets to know one another, Max and Chloe step up on stage with a small metal ball in the short girl’s right hand. She waves at her friends. That is all she needs to get their attention. She looks at Chloe and looks at the crowd, saying, “Hi, welcome to the meeting. Also, happy holidays!”

            The crowd beams joy in her and Chloe’s general direction:

            “Yeah!” “Happy holidays to you too!” “Thank you!”

            “You’re all very welcome. I’ve called you all here because, within a week, the world will be facing its end. And we’re here to tell the end to go away. Forever. So let me summarize the next couple of days with what I’ve seen in my dreams, and what I’ve seen from other people’s accounts.” Max drops the ball onto the floor beneath her and it glows, displaying holographic information regarding Arcadia Bay’s geographic position. A mass of “X”s pop up over the Arcadia Bay Cemetery.

            “On Christmas Eve, Bedlam will begin his attack on Arcadia Bay by raising the dead, starting at the cemetery. He’ll lead these zombies into town, killing everyone and everything in his path. And he’ll turn them into zombies as well. It’ll be bad, and we’ll be leading the charge against them. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘End of days? Oh man, we won’t win without sacrifice.’”

            Chloe jumps in to continue: “But that’s just some binary bullshit of the past. Now is the time we all get our happy ending. And we’ll get it by beating these zombies - not dying at all - and making sure no one else dies. All so that, on Christmas morning, we’ll drag Bedlam down Arcadia Bay Avenue and get him the HELL out of our town! Now, here’s the plan…”

            Drinking out of a water bottle, Max adds, “It requires all of us to armor up, arm up, and put on our game faces. And we’ll have to get everyone who can’t fight out of town with an evacuation. Me, Chloe, and David will work with everyone up on the Town Council to get them all to evacuate. Juliet will spread the word through the news and I’ll meet with a bunch of you guys to grab any weapons, armor, booze I can from the Transect - it’s a little space between spaces, except it’s in between timelines instead - so we’ll go there and grab stuff. Then, it’s all in our hands. I mean, isn’t it always?”

            Chloe sighs and looks at the crowd, caringly of course. “Now, if you want, you don’t have to partake in this battle. Leaving amongst the evacuation efforts will be perfectly understandable. And I won’t be mad. But I would like to see you all join me on the front lines. We’ll have your backs. You’ll have each others’ backs too. We fight as one, for Arcadia Bay. And for the future of the world. Now, who’s with us?”

            Silence falls over the crowd… For a second. Then, they speak:

            “Aye.” “Me too!” “Count me in!” “Sure, why not?” “Yeah!”

            The crowd sings their praises as Chloe puts an arm around Max’s shoulder and plops a kiss on her forehead.


            The Yellowstone Hotel is surrounded by giant oak trees, caked in the forest’s fresh supply of snow. Victoria stands on the balcony of the hotel, looking at a photograph of it amongst a small album of other photographs. Photographs of her and Kate on the road, in Idaho and Wyoming. Kate strokes her back and asks gently, “How do you think things are going back home?”

            Victoria looks at her and tells her, “My guess is Max probably has some big plan in mind to save the world. I hope it does.”

            Kate laughs and Victoria inquisitively looks at her. “Wow, good guess. That’s actually something me and her talked about, only a little bit. It sounded interesting.” A pause comes along as the two look to the forests. “But I’ll just shut up about all that end of the world ‘malarkey’. I wanna be here with you.”

            The two pull each other closer and Victoria adds, “Likewise.” The two keep on holding on… until the cold begins settling in, so they head back inside, into their cozy hotel room.

            “How long until we get to New York?”

            “If we take our time as Max said” Victoria leads Kate back to their queen-size bed and continues there. “For sightseeing, sleeping, catching up on time zones and all that stuff, we’d be there in… about four days?”

            Kate puffs, intrigued in the idea of this journey. “Wow.”

            “Yeah… But we can always just, like, speed through, rush there. I can do that.” Victoria shrugs her shoulders and smiles.

            Kate runs a hand along Victoria’s cheek before saying, “Don’t tire yourself out, Vic. We can rest as you please. Please?”

            Victoria nods her head. “Okay.” Victoria yawns, putting a smirk on Kate’s face. “Let’s get some sleep. Big day ahead of us in… Nebraska… Yeeeeah.” Victoria lies down on her side, keeping Kate in sight.

            Kate follows her down and tells her, “It can be fun. I mean, we’ve survived Arcadia Bay as it is.” She raises an open palm in the air and darkens the room, letting the natural moonlight outside glow as it does.


            Sean Prescott’s checking his list. He’s checking it a lot. Gonna find out who’s gaudy or not. All to find out who deserves a presence at his party. And his list is long.

            The Holloways. “Check, check…”

            General Fields. “Check.”

            Doctor Court. “Check.”

            The Chases. “Check, check… hrm…” Victoria Chase, crudely written in red ink. He thinks to himself: “ All three? But Colin and Zara said she was uninterested… Eh. ” He shrugs his shoulders and…  “Check. JUMPER!”

            The Jumper pops into his office and salutes him. “Yes, sir?”

            Sean adjusts the glasses on his face and asks, “Are you finished feeding the Dawgs for the night?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            Sean smiles and collapses his hands together. “Good. Now, new task! See to it that my guests arrive promptly three days prior to the party. They will stay at the Charioteers Hotel off Exit 6.”

            The Jumper salutes once more. “Yes, sir!” He takes the list and reads it down, up to the red ink. “Ah, sir, she said she didn’t want to come.”

            “Well, her parents RSVP’d for her and I ordered a specific number of chairs for all my guests. And extra unused chairs would be extra money to the chairs guys.”

            Sheepishly, the Jumper asks, “But what if she can’t come?”

            Prescott scowls and growls. “I’m the Party Man. If someone comes, they come. I don’t care if they’re dying on a gutter.” He pauses and reflects on it with a bobbing of his head. “Scratch that, I… Do. I don’t care if they’re… sick with typhus. They will come!” He lowers his voice and adds calmly, “Uh… please.”

            The Jumper salutes Prescott proudly. “Yes, sir.” He pops out of the office as the Prescott patriarch kicks his feet up onto his desk and smiles to himself.

Chapter Text

Days Until Christmas: 6

 

            "I spy with my little eye something red." Kate cups her hand over her eye like a telescope, spying the red mountains of Nebraska that surround her and Victoria. She shifts her gaze onto Victoria as she drives them down a lone highway.

            Behind the wheel, Victoria groans. But she still plays along, saying with a chipper tone to her voice, "These mountains."

            Kate smirks. Intensifying her stare, she asks, "But which one?"

            Passing by a mountain tinges the two of them in dark red shadow. And there are more mountains on the way. A lot of them. "Aaaall of themmmm."


            “ Breaking News, Bayers, on this chilly day! Local photographer Max Caulfield captures shocking image of a strange monster lurking around the shut-down grounds of Blackwell Academy! The creature can only be described as a sleek horse-like beast with sheet-like skin. He also drops confetti as he moves. This is Juliet Watson, ABB Local.


            Passing by the endless green fields of Iowa bores Victoria. But Kate has her covered: "I've got another joke."

            Victoria sighs, but not angrily. Playfully, rather. "Lay it on me."

            "What did the sheep say to the restless farmer?"

            Victoria shrugs her shoulders, asking, “I dunno. What?”

            “It looks to me like you had a baaaaad dream.” Kate laughs to herself.

            “Heh. Good one.” Victoria fixes her sights on the road as the sun starts setting.


            “ Breaking News… again, Bayers! This just in, the Nudist STREAKS again! Convicted felon and infamous nudist Newman D. Schwartz has been taken into custody after barging into the Arcadia Bay Helper Shelter, nude as usual and armed with a longsword believed to formerly belong to Ezekiel Blackwell himself, reading from a handwritten manifesto: ‘the Sun is blue and I am nude. The end of the world is coming and it should be known.’ He said all this, and some incoherent French, before being talked down and led away by local janitor Samuel Taylor, who also spoke in incoherent French. This could mean many things, or it could mean nothing. But one thing is for certain: the end of the world will come one day. So we should all be wary of that. This is Juliet Watson, ABB Local.


            Finally, a city under the moonlight of night. And a hotel off in the distance. Victoria smiles and exclaims, “Woo-hoo. Springfield. The home of- Okay, we need to pull over here. I'm sleepy." She pulls into a parking lot and parks under the neon green Hotel 305 sign. “Damn timezones messing with me.”

            The two step out of the car and move onto the trunk, which Victoria opens with her keys. She tiredly tells her wife, "What a day. What do you think Max and Chloe are doing back home now?"

            Kate smiles at her and casually tells her, "Probably working on a plan."

            While grabbing some luggage, Victoria says, “Wow, some plan. Look at this.” She shows Kate her phone, which is on Max’s Instagram page and shows her, as the photograph’s caption claims, “ smoking some mistletoe with Chloe by the Lighthouse ”.

            Kate chortles along with Victoria as the two smile in the snowy lands around them. “Oh, those two.” They march onward to the lobby of the hotel, where warmth and a good night’s sleep awaits them.


            “ Hiya, Arcadia Bay! Breaking News! My name is Dana Ward and I am taking over for Juliet while she takes a nap in the breakro- oh, no, no talking about that? Okay, anyways, strange noises have been heard from the Water Filtration System just a few miles out of town. Something, something, stay away from that area please. Also, have you all thought of maaaaaybe taking a flight out of the Bay to somewhere sunny? Just a thought. ‘Kay, good night, Arcadia Bay and anyone else who may be tuned into ABB Local!” Dana walks away, exiting stage right.

            “Okay, c’mon, Juliet. Let’s go. ” Dana walks away with Juliet, exiting stage left.


Days Until Christmas: 5

 

            Late morning comes and the two wives are off to the races where the East Coast and New York City await. It is out of Illinois into Indianapolis.

            The winds are rough as the car braves the winter ahead. They speed from the countryside into town. The engine revs along into the future that is the Eastern Time Zone until it starts to chugchugchugchugchugchug

            Uh oh. chkchkchkchk

            "No way. No fucking way! The car's doing that… that thing!” The car stops doing that thing and starts slowing down, to which Victoria blankly says, “Shit.” Hurriedly, she pulls over as it halts wholly. She takes a deep breath and yells, “Aaaargh, it's broken!”

            Kate smiles and holds her hands, softly telling her, "Calm down, Victoria. Calm down. We'll call someone. Maybe a nice trucker can give us advice or a ride."


FIVE MINUTES LATER

 

            An old man trucker whistles at the sight of the dead engine: "Yeah. Your car is… dead."

            Something inside Victoria - the dam containing her endless pettiness and rage - snaps. She grabs the air in front of her face with the ferocity of an enraged duck and growls under her breath. "RRRRRGH-IS-DA-THIRD-ONE-UHHHH-OH-MY-GODDDD-DAHHHH"

            Kate looks at the trucker and asks, “Can you give us a lift? To Manhattan?”

            The trucker sighs and tells her, “I’m not headed back East for another two weeks. I’m very, very sorry.”

            “Thank you, mister.”

            The trucker tips his cap and tells her, “The name’s Anton.” He walks back to his truck, parked in front of Victoria’s car, as Kate sighs in defeat. “Good luck on your journey!” And he’s off to his next destination, wherever it may be.

            Before Victoria can start foaming at the mouth, Kate rubs her back and soothingly tells her, "It's okay. I brought my backup."

            Victoria lowers her claws and shakes, ready to erupt. She looks at Kate with a fake grin and widened eyes - barely containing the rage of a thousand burning cashmere coats - and asks, "B-backup? W-w-what could POSSIBLY be our BACKUP?"

            Kate rushes to the trunk and opens it to grab her luggage as Victoria follows her. She opens her bag and whips out her old teal scooter. It shines as a ray of sunshine hits it and she raises it into the air.

            Victoria sighs.

            Victoria cries. For a second or two.

            Victoria walks right into her wife’s arms.

            Kate holds her, and hugs her, and whispers to her, “Baby, ohhhh… It’s okay. We’re gonna be okay, we’re gonna make it to New York in no time. Don't you remember about my… powers?"

            "Obviously, but I- I- Oh!" The lightbulb in Victoria’s brain glimmers. “Oh my God, you're a genius! Is it safe?”

            Kate strokes her chin and grins, telling her, "I'd imagine so. I've only done a few tests with Max and Chloe. And I almost crashed in one of them."

            “Let's practice a bit. Slowly. Take your time, and no pressure. We can practice in some abandoned parking lot.”


ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES LATER

 

            Donuts are done in some abandoned parking lot. Lots of donuts. All thanks to Victoria and Kate’s new light-based Punch Buggy. To control it, Kate rides her scooter as usual, but now with the extra effort of having to control the glowing aura of a Punch Buggy that contains it.

            Inside, the two gleefully scream, “WHEEEE!” The duo spin around and speed in the deserted place, enjoying it greatly.

            Kate enjoys it especially as a ramp enters her line of sight. She tells Victoria, “I’M GONNA DO A FLIP!”

            Victoria laughs and smiles as she holds Kate’s stomach for safety… until she realizes: “Wait, you said a flip?” She stops laughing and smiling, and starts saying,  “Oh god!”

            “Hang on tight!” Victoria, seeing no way out, does so tightly but also tenderly. The moment is one she would like to live in forev-

            Kate kicks at the floor beneath her and guns it onto the ramp. The Light-Punch-Buggy reaches its target and flies into the air, spinning forward as it does so. It slices through the cold winter winds and keeps on spinning.

            And then it lands. Safe and sound.

            For a few hours, the two practice more. And the thrill just doesn’t die.

            Several hours later, the sun has set on Indianapolis as the wives wrap up their practice. Victoria tells Kate, “Okay, you’ve passed the drivers test. Congrats!”

            The LPB slows to a halt and Kate smiles. “Thank you.”

            The two smile. And smile. And keep on smiling. And look into each other’s eyes… Until Kate looks down at her stomach. “You can let go now.”

            “Oh. Sorry.” Victoria lets go of Kate and the LPB fades into the night. She crosses her arms as the cold hits them and asks, “So, what are we to do now that you’ve got this pat down?”

            Playfully, Kate smirks at her: “We can… celebrate?”

            “Sssounds like a p-p-plan! Come on over to WQGU’s VCCC, if you can!” The two look over to the source of the voice: behind a gate stands a stout monkey dressed as a ringmaster with a red coat and a big hat. He’s freezing his ass off as he shivers in the cold.

            “Ah… all-ow me to introd-duce myself… Name’s Josiah!”

            Victoria raises an eyebrow and asks, “You’re an eccentric drug dealer furry?”

            “No, I’m a real animal! Party animal! Trying to get into the Vortex Club n’ they wan’ me to-”

            “Vortex Club?” Victoria rushes over to Josiah and glares at him, demanding he explain just with her steps.

            Through his shivering teeth, Josiah explains, “Yeah. They’re these super cool guys who hang out around campus and I wanna get in. Also here’s a flyer.” He’s as clueless as any Vortex Club member, regardless of state line differences. He passes a flyer to Victoria through the gate and she grabs it to read:

Wesley Q. Garrison University’s Vortex Club

Presents

THE VORTEX CLUB CHRISTMAS CRASH

December 20th, 2014

8 PM - 4 AM

117 Park Lane

Guys $10 | Girls Free

Prices Double at Midnight

Dress To Impress! Winky face.

            Old habits thrive far, apparently. Victoria blankly crushes the paper, annoyed at their existence… She then uncrumples it, because she has to know where to go. She looks back to Kate and asks, “Baby, do you have those earplugs with you?” Kate nods her head and Victoria nods back before turning to Josiah to ask him, “So they make you wear a silly costume and dance in abandoned parking lots in this weather?” Josiah nods. Victoria’s jaw drops. “The fuck is wrong with them?”

            Josiah tells her, “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

            “Of course you don’t. Take us to them.” Victoria grips onto the gate and starts trying to pull herself up. Both Kate and Josiah look at her as she makes slow progress. They look at each other before Kate fades into the night and re-manifests on the other side of the gate, standing right next to Josiah.

            The monkey sighs and tells her, “Uh, of course” as she makes her way to the top of the gate. She steps over, tripping as she does. As she falls to the ground, Kate snaps her fingers and makes a mattress to save her. “I must let them know in advance. Who are you two?”

            Victoria hops up to her feet and dusts herself off. With herself cleaned, she crosses her arms and tells him bluntly: “This is my lovely wife, Kate Marsh. And I am Victoria Chase. Former Co-President of Blackwell Academy’s Vortex Club…”

            As the two smile at him, Josiah asks, with a cross look on his face, “How old are you two to be married?”

            Victoria squints at him. “How cold are you to be asking questions to a Vortex Club alumnus?” She laughs and swats at the air in front of her face: “Just kidding. We’re gonna give you a jacket. And don’t tell me that your Vortex Club said you can’t wear it. We’ll make the rules now… or we’ll try.”

            “Yeah, I figured.” The LPB returns on the street behind the three and Kate rushes over to the trunk to grab a jacket for Josiah. She finds a puffy green one and tosses it to him. “Thank you.” He puts it on and the three rush off to the party.


            The streets of downtown Indianapolis bump with pop music as Kate skates on her scooter with Victoria and Josiah hanging on behind her. Their light-shell tears through the snow that has lightly caked the streets over the course of the season. The nightly prowlers look at the car in astonishment and confusion. What is this car, this Light-Punch-Buggy? Is it even real? Can we touch it?

            The LPB reaches its destination. “This looks like the place, Katie.” A brownstone apartment complex with music bumping inside. Across the street is Highland Park, a nice green spot with quiet away from the loud.

            Josiah looks at the party with unease. “What are you going to do?”

            “Do what I always do.” Victoria snaps her fingers and smiles at the two. “I’ll be the boss.”

            “I’ll stay here with Josiah. He’s spent enough time with those people.”

            The two wives kiss and Victoria says, “I’ll be quick. Promise.” She steps out the LPB, proudly marching past the onlookers around the car. She heads up to the front door where a buff Samoan stands guard.

            “You know the drill - ID, name, blah blah blah.” Victoria starts pulling out her ID, but the Samoan puts his hands up: “I kid, kid. Who are you?”

            “I’m Victoria Chase.” Nothing out of the guard. “Blackwell Academy?”

            He clicks his teeth. “Now, that’s a place I know. Never heard of ya though.”

            “Really? I saved the town from a cult leader back in May.”

            The Samoan’s eyes widen in shock. “Damn. And to think, Damon Merrick was the big bad wolf back there.”

            “Eh, he’s not too hard to deal with. Still a dick.”

            The guard raises an eyebrow, and justifiably so considering Damon is more of a “was” problem and not an “is” problem. Regardless, he shakes it off and tells her, “C’mon in”, as he steps aside for Victoria. She walks inside and looks around as the memories of parties flood back to her. “Oh, and when ya get back, tell the new Chloe I say ‘hi’ for me. We’re Facebook friends.”

            She turns around and tells him, “Will do… you?”

            “The name’s Rodney! Have fun in there!”

            Victoria moves in more and puts on her earplugs, the party is raging. Pop music from the future - Galantis’ “No Money” - blares through the air. She likes it. She also likes that weed and beer smell that’s floating in the air. Just like old times… , she thinks to herself.

            It’s also crowded as hell and lit in neon light, as it would always be. She shimmies past partygoers of all shapes and sizes, where there is peace to be found within the madness. Friendships that can’t be broken, young love, shit talking and bad dancing.

            “Hey, wu-wu-watch out there, Lady-ah!” Victoria pauses as a man with a red LED visor and a dual mohawk turns to see who bumped into him. But he sees Victoria and says, “Ooooh, shiiiiit, it’s Vicky Chase! Zorro about bein’ messo!” He offers his hand for a shake.

            She gives him his hand, which he does shake, and asks bluntly, “What?”

            “Woooah, talk about the Twilight Zone, catbird!” He snaps his fingers to reveal a cigarette in his hand. She loves those shits. “Have a cig! Ow-meh!”

            Victoria takes it and asks, “Who are you?”, as she lits her cigarette.

            The future man flexes his biceps and tells her, “I’m Yolie’s little bro, Requis! From da year 2019… I’m here to party in one of these, yizzy-yo! Otherwise, I’d be doin’ that Geom Dos Ho-Wo for Grado Ocho!”

            Victoria squints at him, asking herself, What the fuck did this guy just say? “I’m guessing Yolie runs the Vortex Club.”

            He gives her two thumbs up: “Right antsy, Nancy!”

            As she nods her head, a girl stumbles into a table, catching Victoria’s eye. She turns and asks, “Hey, are you okay?”

            With vomit on her mouth, the young lady explains, “Meee? Fiiine, doin’ fiiii- ACK!” And there goes some more vomit on the floor.

            Anxiously, Victoria grabs a bottle of water that Requis tosses to her and hands it to the girl. “Have some water, please. What’s your name?”

            In between sips of the bottle, she lets out a meek “Terry.”

            “Okay, Requis, help Terry please.”

            Requis salutes her and says, “No problemo, Vick-o!” Quickly, he helps her to one of the bathrooms as Victoria looks around the party in search of Yolie.

            Then, she hears her: “Goddamnit, another fuckin’ lightweight. There goes her chances of getting in.” “Terry’s not even that hoooot.” “She’s smart. Just not good with… what is this, piss water?” “We tried getting the good shit, but funds are low, Maya.” It’s upstairs. So Victoria runs upstairs, up two flights of stairs into the VIP lounge.

            A bored girl sits in her way at a table. With bubble gum in her mouth, she looks up at Victoria and asks, “You’re that girl ‘monkey boy’ told us about?”

            Victoria nods her head. And Yolie sees her, shrilly stating, “Oh my gooood, you’re Victoria Chase!”

            Rather unimpressed, Victoria tells her, with a wave of her hands around her body, “In the flesh.”

            Drunkenly marching past the table girl, she explains, “I’m Yolie Ramirez, head of the Vortex Club WQGU. What brings you here, gurl?” She wags her finger to let her know, “ Enter the Vortex. ” Inside awaits the Inner Council - other rich kids from around town who have had the “““privilege””” of getting accepted.

            Victoria grins at these people, this inner council of VCWQGU, and awkwardly waves at them. “ Ugh, let’s get this over with. ” “Well, I’m here to talk about how you initiate people. It’s a little messy.”

            Putting down a cup of crisp cider, Yolie rubs her nose and asks, “Oh, you’re talking about Future-Requis and his ‘Winky Face’ mess-up? He’s not all okay up there. And he’s not even an initiate, so it’s not on us.”

            “No. Though that’s a good saying; ‘Insert-Emotion-Here Face’. Use it more, it’s good stuff. But I’m here to talk about Josiah.”

            Under her breath, Yolie mutters a “shit” and shifts back into her smile. “The Possum Springs monkey boy? Yeah, he told me you were coming… What about him?”

            While puffing on her cigarette, Victoria explains, “He’s a good guy. At least from what I’ve seen. Just, to cut to the chase, why are you having him dress like a clown in this weather?”

            Yolie laughs: “He’s not a clown. He’s a ringmaster, like the ones with those elephants.”

            Victoria rolls her eyes, annoyed. “Okay, either way, it’s cold as shit out there. He could die!”

            “That would suck, definitely. Don’t get me wrong, We’re not heartless. But we’ve all been through that, and we haven’t died. It ain’t THAT cold out there. It’s only us, the Vortex Club, who have to be so cold, so above the winter.”

            While crossing her arms, Victoria explains, “Last I checked, doing that shit is illegal. And also really fucked up. And also, no offense, but I think you’re bluffing about doing that too.”

            Yolie laughs, hiding her anger - something Victoria once knew to do all too well - and shoots back, “Hey, you guys were lighter about getting in. We’re not. We give a damn about who gets in.”

            “And I don’t blame you. But this isn’t the way. In fact, there are A LOT of things with this Vortex Club that aren’t ‘the way’!”

            Yolie groans and yells, “You paved ‘the way’, gurl!” She and her Inner Council sneer at her and add, “You and your… your asshole friends. Bet you didn’t think we’d know, huh? You fucked up just as we did! But at least we don’t kill our classmates, so DON’T pull this holier-than-thou bullshit on us!”

            Victoria steps up to Yolie, getting in her face, and asks sincerely, “If I don’t, who will?” Silence falls on them all. In a harsh tone, Victoria adds, “I’ve fucked up a lot. And trust me, the shit I’d let go down should’ve come down on me much harder. Even if I didn’t know about it, or caused it directly. But that just means I have to do everything I can to stop bad shit like what happened to Rachel Amber, to Chloe Price, to Katie, I have to stop it from happening. I know you’re young, and I know you’ll tell me… Uh, probably tell me to leave when I’m done, but you can be better.” Victoria plants a hand on the younger girl’s shoulder and asks her, dearly and sincerely, “Please.”

            “So, what, we just shut this whole shit down?”

            “No. The Vortex Club used to be better. And not just with parties, I mean with helping people. Sticking up for the little guy and shit like that. Of course, you can party, but we can’t bring people down or treat everyone like shit. We need to inspire people. Okay?”

            “Okay.”

            Victoria opens her arms while asking, “Wanna hug it out?” Silence out of Yolie, though she knows she has changed, even if only a little bit. As she lowers her arms, she continues, “Alright, I guess I’ll get going. But please, heed what I say. You’re a good kid, and your brother looks up to you. Don’t let him down.” She turns her back to the Vortex Club and starts walking away. But before she goes, she bids her “Au revoir.”

            Yolie waves her goodbye, saying, “Adios.”

            And like that, Victoria makes her way through the house to the exit. Before she goes, she spots Terry and Requis in a bathroom. The young partier sleeps with the empty water bottle her body kept extra warm with a dry towel, as Requis keeps an eye on her. “How’s she doing?”

            Giving Victoria a “rock on” hand sign, the future man explains coolly, “She’s gone off into that sleep-dream, dudette. She’ll be a-okie-dokie!”

            “Good. Take care of her, and everyone else around here. And also your sister.”

            “You got it!” As Victoria marches on out of the house, Requis exclaims, “Good luck, Vic! With that ‘end of the world’ shit! I can’t spill too many beans, but I’ll give you the scoop! Spoiler alert: You and your bro-hams save the world togetheeeer!”

            Victoria laughs to herself, and turns back to Requis as he gives her a supportive thumbs-up. “Thank you. How so?”

            “Heheh, can’t saaaay.” Requis grins, hoping to reassure Victoria about… something.

            Victoria scoffs playfully and asks with a smile, “Really? Nothing?”

            Requis shakes his head to tell her, “Nada!”

            Victoria lets out a sigh but smiles nonetheless. “Fine. You take care, man.”

            As she leaves, for real this time, Requis gives her the “rock on” hand sign and exclaims, “Shine on, lady!” And quickly, he returns to Terry’s aid.

            Victoria walks out of the house, into the street, and into Kate’s LPB where she and Josiah are sitting on the scooter in wait. Kate perks up upon seeing her wife and asks, happily, “What’s up?”

            “I talked to their leader. Here’s hoping for some New Years changes. And speaking of New Years, we’ve got to get to the Ball.” Nothing. “The Ball. The one in New York City.” Kate lets out a soft “oooh” while nodding her head.

            Josiah claps his hands. “Oh, you’re going East. Cool beans. Because. I need a ride home. ACHOO! Also, I’m sick, and home will help.”

            Victoria looks at Josiah and points at him, while smoking her cigarette: “You're from Possum Springs, right?”

            Josiah brightens up and says, “Yeah. Pennsylvania. How’d you know?”

            Victoria shrugs her shoulders and tells him, “Yolie may have mentioned it.”

            Josiah smiles a toothy grin and adds, with a chortle, “Hah. Nice. Can I get a lift please?”

            Victoria raises an eyebrow and Kate smirks at her. Ultimately, the two shrug amongst each other and Kate tells him, “I say yes. It's on the way, we might as well.”

            Victoria delivers a salute to Kate and tells her, “Aye aye, captain.”

            “Yes. But for now, we’ll get some shut-eye.” The LPB pulls into the park and slowly transforms into a Light-Cabin. And for the night, the trio sleep in warmth under the light.

Chapter Text

Days Until Christmas: 4

 

            In the deep forests of Western Pennsylvania, the Light-Punch-Buggy travels down lonely roads in the wee early morning hours of the day.

            As Victoria looks around at these Eastern forests, she tells her friends, “I think we’re lost.”

            Josiah grins like an idiot, in spite of his sickness, and explains to her, “There’s a saying, back home: ‘You’re not lost - You’re here!’”

            Victoria scoffs and, with that early morning annoyedness, asks, “Well, ARE we there yet?”

            Josiah shakes his head, “No.” Kate makes a turn onto an exit, and Josiah nods his head, “Yes.” Victoria groans. Not to be angry. Just to play around, as she giggles.

            The LPB passes by a sign, one that means they’re out of the woods:

Welcome to Possum Springs, Pennsylvania! You’re not lost - you’re here!

            It’s quaint. It’s soft. The air is crisp and the skies are bright, yet covered in clouds. As the car enters town, the two humans see the townsfolk: animals of all manes and musks. And yet, they aren’t unlike them. They wear their clothes, walk their walks, talk their talks, and get to work to make their little world’s economy go round and round. “They’re just like us.”

            Josiah tells Victoria, “Yeah, obviously.”

            Smiling at the townsfolk she passes by, Kate asks, “So, where do we take you?”

            Rubbing his throat, Josiah tells her, “I live in the Town Centre. Drop me off there, okay?”

            And within a few minutes, past a Snack Falcon, an old subway tunnel and a Video Store Too, the LPB reaches Town Centre where townsfolk keep about their days. Kate stops in front of a hardware store - the Ol’ Pickaxe - and lets Josiah step out, wearing some extra clothes that the wives offered him back in Indianapolis. With a sincere smile, he tells them, “Thank you very, ver- ACHOO… Very much. Good luck and have fun in New York!”

            Kate smiles and waves to him, “You too! Merry Christmas!” She steps off the scooter and sits on the floor of light that Victoria has lied down on. She tells her, “That was a nice thing we did. And this place, is nice. We should stick around for a while.”

            Victoria yawns and tiredly tells her, “Definitely. Besides… It’s Sunday morning.” Kate smirks and looks up at a stairway to the town’s church.


            Even before the crow of the rooster, masses march down onto Arcadia Bay Avenue, dressed for places unknown, somewhere far away from the shitshow that is about to unfold.

            Chloe, with a coffee cup in her hands, tells a long line of people just outside of the Two Whales Diner, “Okay, hop in! Hop in! Hop in!” And just like that, a family of five head into a wormhole, shimmering in the night. Two people walk past the line, both ready for battle - Max and… Mayor Abigail Cochran. “Ah, Mayor Cochran! Here to evacuate too?”

            Cochran cocks a shotgun and tells Chloe with a look of determination, “The captain stays with her ship.”

            Max rolls her eyes, unseen by Cochran as she stands a foot behind her, and Chloe adds, “Uh, you sure? Because we’ve got this.”

            Cochran shakes her head almost defiantly. “I must be willing to defend Arcadia Bay with my li-”

            Max hops in to tell her, “We won’t blame you. Really.”

            As Cochran crosses her arms, Chloe explains, “Yeah. I mean, you’ve got my vote either way.” She playfully glares at the Mayor, adding, “Just, uh, put the good word in with weed, hm?”

            She sighs and asks the two, “Are you sure?”

            Already annoyed by her, the two yell, “YES!”

            “Okay, okay, I’ll grab my husband and we’ll get outta here.” She starts to walk away, but halts. She turns to the two and asks, a bit more worried than determined, “You two are sure that this will work, right?”

           Chloe steps aside and mutters under her breath, "Oh, for…"

            Max nods her head and places a hand on her shoulder: “We’ve got a high probability of stopping him from destroying the town. We’ve got this. Just go, get, save your husband and yourself.”

            Cochran salutes Max and Chloe, triumphantly telling them, “Good luck.”

            “Same to you.” And like that, the Mayor walks away past the other Arcadians on the move.

            Max looks at Chloe and asks, “You really think this’ll work?”

            Chloe tells her girlfriend, with a playful scoff, “No duh, you JUST reassured Miss Mayor!”

            Max shakes her hand, adding with some levity, “I know!”

            Seeing that little bit of worry on Max’s face brings Chloe just a few steps closer to her. She holds her in a hug and says, “Hey, we’ll survive. Again. Riiiiight?”

            Max giggles, melting Chloe’s heart amidst the little lady’s sudden seriousness: “That wasn’t me who killed you-but-not-you.”

            “I know.”

            “It’s just, there’s a different sacrifice at hand…” Max sighs and, with a smile, reassures Chloe, “And no, it’s neither of us. We’re good.”

            Chloe holds Max’s hand and feels the metaphorical frost in her blood. Or maybe it’s the winter. “We’ll deal with it.”

            “But it’s not us - God, no… It’s Kate and Vic.”

            Chloe feels the freeze in Max’s blood run into her veins too, as she blankly responds, “What?” The idea of sacrifice hits Chloe again, just as it did back by that Lighthouse on that unfortunate Friday afternoon. But seeing Max all worried is what hurts her the most, so she calmly tells her, “We’ll work something out. There’s always a wa-”

            “HEEEY! Speed it up, slowpoke!” The two laugh as they spot a spat between an elderly woman with a bunch of luggage on line and a young man with a standard punk’s attire.

            The old lady yells back, “Oh, shut up, Henry, I pampered you as a baby!”

            Chloe sighs and swiftly gives Max a kiss on the forehead. Max likes that as she smirks and rubs Chloe’s arm. And with that out of the way, the duo march over with Chloe yelling, “No fighting! We’re all going to the same place, and that is ‘Outta Here’!”

            Amongst all the townsfolk hearing the yelling is the old ghost of Arcadia; Bedlam, embedded deep within the land's soil as he scouts the town. After all, his plan runs deep within the town's history of loss and death.

            He has heard enough. And, with his presence still unknown, he travels through the branches deep under the town’s soil and cement, passing through the Bay up North to the outskirts of Culmination, where his lair and his men await.

            Emerging through the ground into the warehouse where his Enforcers are watching some Rankin-Bass Christmas classics, he informs them simply: “They know.”

            Tangi, fiddling with a harmonica in a stolen lounge chair, asks, “About?”

            “Our mission to glass the Bay.”

            The Enforcers all groan, save for Dolly as she lurks in a nest above everyone else. Elmer asks, rather worried, “Well, what do we do?”

            Bedlam wraps his vines around the shoulders of his Enforcers, a rare act of compassion from this Lord of Death, and explains to them, “Nothing changes. You all shall finish packing. Tomorrow, you head to Independence and I begin scouting.” The tattooed terror walks to a window where he sees the vast forests of Oregon, so full of life, the flora and fauna. “It is time.”


            “Time for TACOS.” Victoria looks at the plate of tacos sitting in front of her, grinning like a lunatic, and she eyes Kate’s plate too. Kate, sitting next to her, takes notice of this and laughs, while Victoria asks her, “What did you think of the church?”

            Kate sighs happily before enlightening Victoria: “It was so nice. It’s got a good view of the town, and the valleys are so… vast. It’s just like home. And the pastor too, she was so friendly. This place is great.”

            With a taco in her mouth, Victoria nods and hums, “Mhm.”

            Kate looks at Victoria and sees in her eyes just the faintest hint of sleepiness. “What were you doing in the meantime?”

            Victoria shrugs her shoulders and lets out a yawn, “Catching up on sleep in the car…” With a chuckle, she adds shyly, “I didn’t get much. And my back hurts.”

            “Aw.” Kate places her hands on her wife’s shoulders and lays back a bit with her in their booth. “Sorry, I should’ve looked for a place to take us to.”

            “It’s all good.” As Kate eats a taco, Victoria asks her, “What do you think of the tacos?”

            “These are so good. We really need a taco place in the Bay.”

            “Yeah…” Victoria feels that old pessimism come and go, wanting to tell her, “ If there is even a Bay left. ” “It could use one.”

            From nowhere, a waiter at the shop - a sturdy blue cat with a taco hat on her head - adds gleefully, “Every place needs taco places!”

            Kate looks at her and asks, “Right?”

            “Also, did you saw you met Pastor K?” Kate nods and the cat continues, “Nice. She’s super cool, and my mom works at the church too.”

            Victoria nods her head: “Interesting. But yeah, this place is… pretty great.”

            The cat smiles and tells her, “I’m sure my boss will be glad that you like it. Things have been on the ups lately, and I’m all for it.” The cat takes a seat opposite the duo and asks, “Anyways, what are your names?”

            “I’m Victoria, this is Kate.”

            The cat nods along, interested, and tells them, “My name’s Mae! And I’ve heard a little bit about you, from a friend of a friend.”

            “Josiah?”

            “Yep. Apparently, he gave Germ some really cool red coat. It suits him, nice colors.”

            Kate shrugs her shoulders and Victoria says, “I’ll say. But he got it from some bullies at his school. They made him wear it. In the freezing cold.”

            Mae’s yellow eyes widen before settling on a frown: “Damn, that’s messed up.”

            “Uh huh. But I talked some sense into them, and into Josiah, I hope.”

            Mae gives her two thumbs up, triumphantly cheering, “Good. Screw bullies!”

            “Amen to that.” Victoria looks at the town outside the window and takes another bite of a taco. After swallowing it, she asks, “What’s the quickest way to New York from here?”

            Mae shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes: “I dunno. I’ve never been there. Isn’t it pretty close though?”

            Victoria waves a hand around, adding, “Kinda. Relatively speaking.”

            Mae waves at Victoria. “Hi, ‘Relative Lee’.”

            Victoria laughs and rolls her eyes at this obvious pun. “Oh my God.” She takes out her phone and checks a map of the East Coast. It’s not that far away: “Hey, three hour… Oh.” Victoria turns to Kate and asks, “Katie, want me to take over?”

            Kate only has to take one look at Victoria to see that she’s in about as much shape to drive the rest of the way as she herself is. And so, she shakes her head.“Nah. Thank you, though… I could go for a nap somewhere. And I’m sure you can too.”

            Nodding her head, Victoria asks Mae, “What are some good… ‘napping’ spots?”

            Mae hums, thinking of some of her favorite places - her friend Bea’s house (no, obviously), her own house (again, no, obviously), that abandoned apartment (seriously, just somewhere else that isn’t just your friends’ houses) - and her nightmare eyes widen as she brilliantly suggests, from the idea of that abandoned apartment, “You could try the rooftops! Get all bundled up, hang out with Lori if she’s up there, and hopefully not roll off and go splat.”

            Victoria squints her eyes at this… suggestion. “Uh- okay, no. Besides, how are we supposed to get all the way up to the rooftops?”

            “Use the electrical poles.” Both girls look at her blankly, prompting her to ask with a snarky raise of an eyebrow, “What?” The pause stays. “Okay, there’s the church.”

            Kate grins and tells Victoria, “Yesssss, we can go there!”

            Victoria sees Kate’s smile and settles on it: “Might as well. Thank you, Mae.”

            Mae gets up and tells the two, “You’re very, very welcome.” And like that she starts to walk away, back in business… until she comes back and asks, “Oh, and that’ll be eighteen dollars for the tacos.”

            Victoria chuckles. Pulling out her wallet and grabbing a twenty, she tells Mae, “Keep the change.” And with Mae gone, and their food paid for, the duo head outside.

            The townspeople walk around as they always do, living their lives in preparation for the holiday season. The world is alight under the sun, peering through the collapsing clouds with the skies a pastel blue. The two humans walk East, back into Town Centre, where Victoria spots a bear and a bird putting up decorations and banners for a holiday - “Longest Night”. Things are festive. Things are peaceful.

            The duo walk past people - animals who are people, that is - as they smoke, they talk, they work, they eat, all in perfect harmony. And the two march up the stairway to the town’s Church of the First Coalescence; Possum Spring’s first and only church. 

            Upon walking into the place, the two spot Pastor Karen standing by the doors to the Main Hall. She, a tall green bird with glasses, gleefully waves to Kate and says, “Hello again! Welcome back!”

            Kate waves back, holding Victoria’s hand to ease her into the environment. “Hi, Pastor. Victoria, this is, as you’ve probably guessed, Pastor K.”

            “Nice to meet you, Victoria.” Kate lets go of Victoria’s hand, allowing her to shake K’s hand. “I’ve already met Kate, and she is just pleasant.”

            Victoria smirks, looking at Kate with love in her eyes. “I’ll say.”

            The Pastor laughs, letting out a few caws as well: “Y’know, it’s funny. We’re both named Kate. Me and her.”

            Victoria’s eyes widen as she looks at both of them. “Wha- forreal?”

            The two of them nod and exclaim, “Mhm!”

            “Whaaaat? This is a crazy world.”

            The two of them also say, “You can certainly say that again.”

            All three erupt into laughter before settling down so that Victoria can ask, “Mae told us that this place is a good resting spot. And, at the risk of looking like free-loaders, can we stay here for a bit? Just to relax?”

            Pastor K perks up at the sound of that familiar name and that friendly request. “Ah, Mae. She’s a friendly soul, one who has been through quite a bit. I suppose you can stay and rest. Kate mentioned a roadtrip in today’s Mass. That you came all the way here from Oregon! Well, you’re at the end of the race, headed to New York City, so why not take the time to make a pitstop.” Pastor K takes a seat on one of the nearby pews and adds with a welcoming tone, “And no, you aren’t free-loaders. You, and everyone else, are welcome here.”

            Kate, with a big grin on her face, says, “Thank you very much.”

            From behind her spectacles, Pastor K looks to her right, pointing out the rest spot. “The library is open, and you may use it as such for as long as you need.”

            The two start to walk away, with Victoria graciously telling the Pastor, “Thank you, like, a million times.”

            And like that, the two head into the library, past another blue cat lady sitting at a desk. From there, they go through a corrido before reaching the library. It’s small, but there is a bench facing a window where the sunlight can come in. It’s very nice, really. The two settle on the bench, holding each other in their arms dearly and sincerely. “We’ll get there in no time. Rest up, my love.”

            “You too, babe.” And like that, the two fall asleep, into their dreams.


            Enter: The Main Hall of the Agency of Metahuman Containment’s Headquarters. Enter: Independence, Missouri. Enter: The End of Everything. Standing there by the giant cake is Sean Prescott, looking as sniveling as always. He’s dressed for success with a Santa hat on his head. He sneers, trying to look sincere and failing, at Victoria and her parents, grabbing their attention as an old friend does. He raises his palms and exclaims, “Ah, Victoria! It is so good of you join us!”

            Victoria opens her mouth to respond, but her mother takes the job for her: “Thank you for hosting us! Yeah, our daughter was a bit hesitant to come, but she came! And we’re here! And that’s all that matters.”

            Victoria looks around, seeing a bunch of rich socialites, senators, trust-fund goody-goodies, all talking the talk about the world and her many affairs. And she HATES it. She also hates what this exactly is, on a metaphysical sense as she puts her palms over her face in annoyance. “Goddamnit, this is a dream. Or flicker. Whateverthefuck it is.”

            Prescott chortles in some sort of disbelief, saying, “Whoa, potty mouth."

            Colin, in between giggles which are so obviously not real, asks in a whisper, "What's up with you, Victoria?"

            “Nothing. How’d I get here?”

            The Prescott patriarch pauses and looks around. To him, Victoria’s looking like a stranger, a weirdo. “You don’t remember? My friend, the Jumper, came along and picked you up from Manhattan.”

            “Is that so?”, Victoria says, glaring at Prescott.

            Prescott confusedly looks around. Now, she’s really getting strange. “Yeah. It is so. Or, was so.” Victoria nods her head, and tired of her… weirdness, Sean tells the Chase parents, “I’m gonna go tear up the dance floor, make yourselves welcome!” And with a tip of his hat, Sean marches onto the dance floor, trying his damnedest to look really happy with a, “HO, HO, HO!”

            Zara looks at her daughter and, concerned, asks Victoria, “Is everything okay?”

            “I’m peachy. Where are the drinks?”

            “No alcoholic beverages for you, young lady.” That posh voice rings familiar to Victoria’s ears. It’s a voice she hasn’t heard in a long time, perhaps since a certain road trip to Mount Rushmore. “Especially not after your last time with Mr. Prescott’s son.”

            Victoria turns to see an elderly man with hair as white as snow standing with beverages to hand out. And he hands her a bottle of water, perhaps so as to avoid another firing. Just as he wishes he had all those years ago. Victoria looks at him regretfully. “Montrose?”


            “No.” Victoria sits up as waves crash around her. “You’re sorely mistaken, Vicky. It’s Max-ine.”

            She looks around and sees that it is sunset, that she is back in Arcadia Bay, that she has been drenched in saltwater. She looks down at her outfit - again, the classic Blackwell cashmere-skirt combo - and grumbles, “For Christ’s sake.”

            “I’m the only God here, as much as Kate would disagree.” Victoria gets to her feet and faces down the Other Max - Maxine - as she stands in the ocean, her body shrouded in a black robe. Behind her, the sun glistens and gleams, shining a powerful orange light onto the world, just before night eventually comes. She glares at Victoria, her enemy as always, and continues, “But then again, she’s not here either, is she? This is the end. If Bedlam won’t do it, then I will.”

            “What?”

            The Other Max tilts her head and steps forward. “You forgot or someth-” That look in Victoria’s eyes. Confusion. She grins a cruel sniveling grin. “Ohhh, this is another one of those.” Victoria knows too. “A dream- flicker- whateverthefuck. Just like it was back then. This is what awaits you, Vicky. I so dearly await you.” She turns around to look at the Sun. Light on her dark. “Take one last look at the world. One last look before I tear it to ribbons.” She turns around and stares Victoria down. Her eyes cold and blank, yet full of fury.


            Victoria wakes up on a sailboat in the afternoon. The sun is setting, yet still shining, and the wind is calm, bringing in the sun’s warmth. She sits up, and she looks around. She sees Arcadia Bay… and it looks different. Gone are the suburbs, and here are the urbs. Taller buildings have been built, replacing all of Arcadia Bay Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Overlook Avenue, and everything in between. It’s as if the whole town had been demolished.

            She scratches her hair and checks her phone. September 12th, 2015. Kate’s birthday. And yet, she’s nowhere to be seen.


            Victoria wakes up in a cold sweat, and she’s back in the church with Kate, holding her tightly. She whispers to her, "We need to stay here." Nothing. Well, except snores. "Oh, you're asleep still." Victoria feels someone else laying next to the two of them, so she look. It’s Mae. "And so are you."

            "Me too, sometimes.” An old bird in a fisherman's vest says as he mops the floor. “When I’m not on the job. Just a sweet lil' place for us to take refuge in these rough times." He sighs happily as he sprays down a stained glass window with some water.

            "You can say that again… Janitor."

            The Janitor looks at Victoria and, as tired and old as he is, he smiles. "Nous faisons toujours… Victoria Chase."

            She freezes and thinks. Thinks aloud. "How do you know my name?"

            The Janitor shrugs and starts walking away. He tells her, "You already know mine. Au revoir."

            Victoria looks at him go, but brushes it off in a shiver. She holds Kate and says to herself, with him gone, “Nice French.”


            “Are you sure?” Mae asks of Victoria with a raised eyebrow. “Possum Springs isn’t exactly the best of places in the country. I mean, there are worse, to be sure.”

            Victoria looks up at the sky, and the many stars she can see. “We have to… There’s gonna be a big blizzard, and I don’t know how this car of ours will handle.”

            Kate crosses her arms, telling Victoria nonchalantly, “No, there isn’t.”

            “Yeah.” Victoria laughs, passing it off as just disbelief. “Yeah! It will snow!”

            Kate points up into the air, clearly not buying it. “There- there isn’t. It’s a clear night sky.”

            Mae looks at the two with her wide nightmare eyes, and adds to the conversation, “Eh, we didn’t think there’d be snow in November. Or humans in… the rest of the world. Or wormholes.” She continues staring at the two as they look at each other, rather flustered from the fighting. “Okay. There’s a hotel, if you need it. Or maybe Pastor K will let you stay… Hey, that rhymed.”

            Victoria says to her, “Thank you, Mae. You’ve been a delight.”

            Mae shrugs her shoulders and says, “I have that effect on people. Happy Longest Night!” The two don’t get it. "That's like our Christmas, I think. According to Bing."

            Victoria smirks. "Bing. You use Bing?" She chuckles, amused at the idea, before telling her happily, “Happy Longest Night to you too!” And like that, Mae walks off into the cold Possum Springs night, down the stairs into town.

            With the two of them alone, Kate says seriously, “There’s obviously no blizzard coming, Vic. I’m not dumb.”

            Victoria freezes up and puts her hands over her face, telling her wife, “No, Katie, I didn’t mean to say anything like that!”

            Seeing Victoria like that brings Kate back to calmness, and she sighs. “I know. Sorry to put you on the spot like that.” After a pause, she asks, “Why don’t you want to go along to New York? We’re almost there.”

            Victoria takes a deep breath, afraid of how Kate will react. She sees her smile, in the future, so things must go right. Right? And so, she speaks up and asks, “Remember that guy who saved us from Teddy Iris and his thugs?” Kate nods her head. “He works for Sean Prescott and his dumb fucking Agency- wait, can I swear in a church?” Taking a walk outside to her car, Pastor K shrugs. Kate, seeing Victoria’s nerves acting up, gives her a thumbs up. “Okay, sorry. But he works for him, and he’ll pick me up in New York. Maybe he’s waiting there.”

            “But maybe he isn’t.”

            Victoria rubs her eyes with the palms of her hands. She’s getting anxious, so Kate holds her hand. “I know. It’s crazy, I sound crazy, but we can stay here. He won’t think to look for us here.”

            “Vic.”

            She looks at Kate, afraid. “Please. I've been having those weird dreams again, or flickers, and while the Other Max told me tha-"

            "Wait, what? Who is the Other Max?"

            "That evil Max who killed a bunch of people. Back when we were at Blackwell, with Max's ‘Justice League’ or whatever, in the pool room, I had a dream where I met her. And she told me those dreams I was having - that I've been having - they're flickers or something. Glimpses into another world."

            Kate looks at her with a slight ounce of confusion. She wipes it off quickly, back to coolness. Victoria cannot do the same as she fretfully explains, "Like I said, it's crazy. And yet, they're all… kinda possible. Us going to New York in one dream, us fighting Jefferson, and that's just mine. Max told you about hers, right?"

            Kate remembers some time back in October of last year. It was the OmniMax who told her about time travel and proved it, but it was a Max nonetheless. She remembered her describing a tornado tearing through town, as if it were out to kill the Bay. She remembers: "She did tell me. A storm destroying the Bay. And it happened too, in Chloe’s timeline. It could have happened in ours." Kate hugs Victoria, letting her warmth defuse Victoria’s anxious nerves. As she runs her fingers over the back of her head, she tells her, "Let's just look at them as what they are: Dreams. Glimpses. Whatever. What matters is what's here."

            Victoria smiles, at peace. "So you wanna stay?"

            “New York's not here, is it? And besides, it's pretty late.” Victoria nods her head in agreement. "Come. Let's make a new future." And like that, with Kate leading Victoria along as she strongly and tenderly holds her hand, the two walk down the stairs back into town. Back to where the people are.