Eye of the Storm

A Life is Strange fanfiction. First her dad, then Max - people keep leaving Chloe's life. Set somewhere between Max leaving and Max coming back (2008 - 2013). [There will be a lot of swearing]

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1. Updraught


“Running from pain isn’t easy, Rachel!” I was so mad, I thought she understood, “It chases you down as fast as it fucking can and takes everything you know and turns it to shit.”

“I know Chloe, I didn’—”

“—Trying to live with it isn’t any easier, but it doesn’t give me much choice.” I spat my words, I could taste the bitterness in my voice, “Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, I’m not talking about the pain you cried over when you were a kid - I’m talking about more than a fucking grazed knee or a detention.”

“Chloe, I get it, I really—”

“I’m talking about the kind of shit that seriously messes you up, Rachel. The kind of shit that leaves you with nothing but...but anger and...and rage and nightmares.” My throat was tightening, but I wasn’t letting tears stop me. “The kind of shit that makes you give up on everything. It’s not fucking sunshine and rainbows, okay?”

“Look, I’m sorr—”

“People tell me to move on, they say ‘you’ll get over it’ or ‘you just need time’,” I threw her a glare, but by now I was out of anger. “Bullshit.” I said, no longer fueled by rage but the tears that crept down my face. Rachel grabbed my wrist, but I slapped at her hand. “Bitch,” I breathed.

She stood up and took both my hand this time to stop me; I couldn’t hate her anymore, I dropped to my knees and she knelt with me. I was crying too much, the tears fell and soaked into my jeans. She leant her head on mine, so close I could hear her breathing - almost as shallow as mine.

“Chloe, I’m here,” she whispered.

“It doesn’t fade, none of it does,” I choked. “The older I get, the less memories I have to cling on to - and the ones I do have are full of...shadows and...and ‘what if?’”

“Shh,” she said, “I get it Chloe, please, trust me.” I wanted to scream back at her, but my thoughts were all running too fast. All I could do was collapse into her and let my tears soak into her shirt instead.

Rachel’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me in tight. For some reason I felt safe, like it didn’t matter that I was crying or that a minute ago I hated the bitch. Her breath whispered down my back as she released all the air in her lungs, I could feel the smile through her cheek, resting against mine. Somehow, my lips curled upwards and my body relaxed; the tears still fell, but now I didn’t mind. I couldn’t speak, or didn’t know what to say, so after a moment Rachel broke the silence.

“Listen Chloe, I don’t pretend to know what you’re going through,” she said, talking softly into my ear, “But no-one expects you to deal with it alone.”

“They do–”

“–No, they don’t,” she replied, her voice as firm as her grip. “How many times have they asked you to go to counselling?”

I rolled my eyes, she was bringing this up again?

“I don’t want fucking counselling,” I said, pulling away from Rachel.

“No, that’s not what I asked,” she said, looking straight at me, I knew she wouldn’t let me avoid the question.

“Well, I guess,” I sighed, “I don’t know, I’ve lost count.”

“It’s a lot though, right?” she pushed. I replied with a reluctant nod, the bitch had got me again.

“If they expected you to do it alone, would they want you to have counselling?”

I figured the question was rhetorical, and was too distracted to give an answer anyway. Her hands had moved to hold mine and my brain was occupied with how similar her palms were to Max’s. That thought was not welcome, I’d been trying to forget, wishing the way she smiled wouldn’t be so emblazoned on my brain.

That thought opened up a rush of memories, flashing by like pages of a flip-book. Pirates, superheroes, her eyes lighting up when she got the right angle. Then me hugging her, whispering in her ear, then she's gone. The only word I could think of was 'alone', repeated and echoed over and over in Rachel's voice, then Max's, then...Dad's.

Black. I shut my mind off. I was not going to see his face again, I refused to let him haunt me. Better to be blank than in hell. I traced my thoughts back, clambering into more manageable truths. Max left. It hurt, still, but I could at least remember her eyes. Rachel was there. Her hands still resting in my own, but holding tighter now.

I opened my eyes and breathed slowly, I found her still watching me, still trying to smile but I could see the worry in the corners of her mouth.

"What was that, Chloe? You hella zoned out," she said, a nervous laugh escaping her lips.

"Hella? You seriously say that?" I laughed back, my tears had all but dried up.

"Yup," she smiled, "and you better get hella used to it."

"How about I hella don't," I snapped back, with only a touch of irony. Rachel laughed and leaned close to whisper:

"I think it suits you."

I examined the intricacies of her ear for a second, then realised what I was doing and looked for something else to stare at. Rachel seemed to find this 'hella' amusing, I scowled but we both knew I didn't mean it. I hate the bitch, but but we love to hate.

"You staying tonight?" I asked, knowing that I wouldn't face sleep by myself.

"If you want me."

"I always want you."

"Careful, I could take that the wrong way."

"Maybe I want you to."

"Smooth," she practically purred, "I like it."

We both laughed. I couldn't see anything ever happening between us - apart from anything that kind of talk was dangerous. But more than anything Rachel was a friend, she was hope, a smile or a laugh, or someone to cry with. I was never sure if I preferred laughter or silence though, as we both ran out of air we settled into a quiet that I knew well. It was the kind of quiet when no-one needs to say anything. When words would be an interruption.

'Shit,' I thought, 'I'm getting philosophical...I must be tired.'

 

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